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What is the One Bite Rule?

If you have a dog, you may have heard of the “One Bite Rule.” Essentially, the rule states that if you are not aware that your dog is vicious or violent, then you cannot be liable if the dog bites someone.

That means that the dog gets “one free bite” before you are aware that the dog is vicious or has aggressive tendencies. This rule, however, is not valid in Florida.

History and Current Status of the One Bite Rule

The One Bite Rule is also sometimes referred to as the “First Bite Rule” or the “One Free Bite Rule.” Originally, the rule applied to domestic animals because they are not expected to be violent. The rule has English roots and the tradition continued in the United States.

Today, only eighteen states still abide by this rule. Although the rule generally refers to dogs, it also includes other types of animals. It also applies to more than just bites; it covers all types of injuries that the animal may cause.

Florida’s Dog Bite Statute

In Florida, a specific statute that addresses dog bites has replaced the rule. The owner of the dog is liable for bites regardless of whether the dog has bitten anyone previously. The dog owner will be liable to people that would normally come on to the property, including postal carriers and invited guests.

There are, however, a few qualifications. For example, there are certain exceptions to liability that vary depending on the location of the victim. The person bitten must be:

  • In a public place, or
  • Lawfully in a private place (including the property of the owner of the dog)

This means that if the person is an intruder, for example, the owner of the dog will not be liable if the dog chooses to bite the intruder. According to Florida law, the dog owner can also limit liability to some extent by prominently displaying a sign on their property that states “Bad Dog.”

Classifying a Dog as Dangerous

Daytona Beach animal control is required to investigate biting incidents in this area. If someone wants to classify the animal as dangerous, then he or she must submit a sworn affidavit to animal control about the biting incident.

The dog will not be declared dangerous if the person who was bitten was taunting, abusing, or tormenting the animal or on the property unlawfully. The dog will also not be declared dangerous if it was acting to protect a human from assault or attack.

Dog attacks can be considered a crime, with charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the dog’s classification. Dog bites can also be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog or otherwise attacked by a dog, you should speak with an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Call the law offices of Robert W. Elton at 386-274-2229 for a free consultation.

Related Posts:

  1. “Beware of Dog” – Is the Owner Protected from Lawsuit?
  2. The Most Common Premises Liability Cases – And What You Can Do to Fight Back
  3. What to Do after a Dog Bites Your Child
  4. What is Premises Liability?

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