Dog BiteWho Is Liable in a Jacksonville Dog Bite Case? Exploring Owner Responsibility

May 30, 2024

Being bitten by a dog can lead to serious injuries and emotional trauma. In many cases, the victim is entitled to compensation for their damages. But who is legally responsible when a dog bites someone in Jacksonville, Florida? This article explores dog bite liability and what victims need to prove to recover damages if bitten.

Florida Dog Bite Laws

Florida is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means that owners are liable for any injuries their dogs cause, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or the dog had bitten anyone before. The victim only needs to prove:

  • The dog’s owner is responsible for the dog
  • The dog bit them
  • They suffered damages from the bite

Under Florida statute 767.04, the owner is liable for all damages caused by their dog biting someone in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This law makes dog owners strictly liable for bites, with a few exceptions discussed below.

Exceptions to Owner Liability

There are some circumstances where a Jacksonville dog owner may not be liable for bite damages:


If the victim was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog and the bite occurred as a natural reaction, the owner may avoid liability. However, normal play with a dog or accidentally startling it is not sufficient provocation. There must be clear evidence of intentional harm or distress by the victim.


If the victim was trespassing on private, properly posted property when the bite occurred, the property owner has no liability. However, they must still take reasonable care to restrain the dog from biting trespassers they are aware of.

Assumption of Risk

Veterinarians, dog trainers, and other professionals who work closely with dogs assume some risk. To avoid liability, the owner must warn them of any aggressive tendencies. The professional must also use reasonable care when interacting with the dog.

Comparative Negligence

Florida follows comparative negligence rules. So, if the victim was partially at fault, their compensation may be reduced by their percentage of blame. For example, someone who provokes a dog into biting may still recover some damages even if partially responsible.

Proving Dog Owner Liability

To hold the owner responsible for a dog bite in Jacksonville, the victim must prove:

The Owner’s Identity

This may require identifying the dog’s caretaker if someone else was watching it. Police reports, animal licensing records, microchips, and witnesses can help confirm the legal owner.

The Dog Caused the Injury

Medical records showing bite wounds, photographs, animal control reports, and witness statements can prove the dog bite. Any prior incidents with the dog may also be relevant.

The Victim Suffered Damages

Bills, receipts, and medical documents can prove the costs of medical treatment, prescriptions, therapy, lost wages, and other losses. For severe bites, expert testimony may help establish the value of pain and suffering or permanent scars/disabilities.

The Incident Details

It helps to have evidence showing where the incident occurred, whether it was a public or private place, if the dog escaped a yard or leash, and details about what led to the bite. This evidence may defeat any defense that the victim was at fault.

Damages Available in Dog Bite Claims

Florida law allows dog bite victims to recover several types of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses – Any costs related to treating bite wounds, infections, rabies shots, surgery, physical therapy, and other medical care.
  • Lost income – If injuries prevented the victim from working for a period of time, they can recover lost wages.
  • Disability – Permanent damage like scarring, loss of limb use, or psychological trauma can result in ongoing disability. Victims may recover the reduction in their earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering – Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, fear, anxiety, and reduced quality of life.
  • Punitive damages – If the owner showed a reckless disregard for public safety, punitive damages may be awarded to punish their conduct.

The total value depends on the severity and circumstances of each case. Having an experienced Jacksonville dog bite lawyer helps victims fully account for immediate and future costs when seeking fair compensation.

Contact Our Jacksonville Dog Bite Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury in the Jacksonville area, turn to our experienced team for dedicated legal representation. We know how to build strong cases to prove owner liability while making the claims process as smooth as possible for bite victims. Our goal is to recover the maximum compensation you deserve in your situation. Contact us today for a free consultation – we are committed to helping dog bite victims throughout Florida obtain justice.

Visit our office at 422 Jacksonville Dr. Suite B, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (904) 587-4446.
48-49 Russell Square, WC1B 4JP, London
1 800 643 4300

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