As a personal injury lawyer, I am frequently asked, “What happens if my dog bites someone?” In Florida, the answer is quite simple: according to Florida Statute § 767.04, “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.”
I am the proud owner of a very gentle and non-violent pug named Daisey. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen Daisey upset. Nevertheless, if she bites someone, I am on the hook for the injuries she causes. Florida law is very different from other states. Many other states follow what is commonly known as the “one-bite” rule. In other words, each dog may be entitled to one free bite. Theoretically, the free bite lets the owner know their dog can be dangerous. Florida does not follow the “one-bite” rule. According to Florida law, the owner of a dog is liable for injuries regardless “of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners' knowledge of such viciousness.” Thus, even though my pug has never been aggressive, I may still be liable if she bites someone.