Articles Posted in Dog Bites

There are some legal fictions that seem to exist no matter how true or untrue they are. One such fiction is the so-called “one free bite rule.” This is the belief that a dog can bite someone the first time without the owner being liable, but the second time there’s liability. This is actually not true in Florida, though.

Dog Bite Laws

The law is clear that if a dog bites you, the owner is responsible for your injuries, regardless of whether Fido has ever bitten someone in the past, and regardless of the dog’s propensities for being a sweetheart or a killer in the past. There are some exceptions to this law:

Recently, WFLA reported that, according to a report by insurance company State Farm, Florida ranks in the top ten states for dog bite claims. According the report, in 2012, Floridians made 123 dog bite claims which resulted in pay-outs of $7.1 million, ranking Florida eighth in the country. California was ranked number one, followed by Illinois and Texas at two and three. State Farm paid-out approximately $108 million for dog bite claims in 2012, and estimates there are more than 4.7 million dog bites each year.

Despite a common misconception to the contrary, dogs are not permitted one “free bite” under Florida law and, in fact, the law states quite the opposite. Florida Statutes Section 767.04 states in part:

The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.

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