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Is a dog’s owner responsible if it hurts a person in Florida?

The laws about personal responsibility and injuries are different in every state. That can make it really hard for people to figure out what their rights are when they get hurt on someone else’s property. 

For example, suppose a dog turns aggressive and bites you while you visit your neighbor. In that case, you may feel uncertain about whether your neighbor has any responsibility for the medical bills you have and your lost wages. 

Asking the people you know could lead to inaccurate answers, especially if someone who tells you about their experience with a vicious dog suffered the bite in another state. When is an animal’s owner responsible for an attack under Florida law?

Florida has strict liability rules for animal attacks

When someone owns an animal, they take some personal risk by keeping that pet. If their dog suddenly hurts another person, the victim of that attack may have the legal right to bring a claim for compensation. 

Often, someone’s homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance will pay for those losses, but other times, the situation may lead to a personal injury lawsuit. Unlike some states where the victim of an animal attack must show that the animal has bitten a person or behaved aggressively before, Florida does not require previous aggression to hold an owner accountable. The state has a strict liability law for animal attacks. 

The only exceptions to the strict liability rules for Florida dog bites involve a person intentionally provoking the animal or committing a crime, like trespassing, at the time of the attack. Anyone else may be able to file an insurance claim or even a civil lawsuit. Understanding the rules about dog bites can help you minimize the financial consequences your family suffers because of a vicious animal.