Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?

An aggressive dog showing its teeth.

Dogs are commonly called man’s best friend and the most popular pet choice for Americans. Engaging with canines has its risks, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 11 years ending in 2021, 468 people in the United States died after being struck or bitten by a dog. Their research shows that the frequency of dog-related deaths doubled during the last four years of the study period.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack in Tampa, Florida, you may wonder about suing for a dog bite. Florida’s laws give victims of vicious animal attacks legal grounds to seek justice after a dog attack. Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s dog bite laws.

Florida’s dog bite laws

Many states have what’s known as a “one bite” law. This law limits a dog owner’s liability to their awareness that their dog is violent. Consequently, the owner may not be liable if the dog has never bitten someone. However, if the dog has bitten someone before, they’ve demonstrated they can be harmful, and the owner is liable.

Florida doesn’t have the “one bite” law. This means that any dog owner can be liable for a dog attack, even if the dog has never acted in a harmful manner before. Florida Statute 767.04 assigns liability to pet owners when attacks occur in public places and on private property in some circumstances. Dog attacks on private property can fall within premises liability law. 


Comparative negligence applies to dog bite cases, meaning liability is shared between all at-fault parties. Consequently, if the victim has partial responsibility for the attack, the dog owner’s liability decreases. Situations that affect the dog owner’s liability include the following:

  • Appropriate warnings: Owners may not be liable if they have a “bad dog” sign posted and the victim is over six years of age
  • Unlawful access: The dog’s owner isn’t liable if the victim was unlawfully on private property. Suppose someone breaks into your house to steal items, and your dog attacks them. You may not be liable because they were on private property without permission. 
  • Victim’s actions: The owner may not be liable or have reduced liability if the victim is partially responsible for the incident. For example, if a person kicks a dog and the dog bites them, it would change the dog owner’s level of liability.

Filing personal injury claims for a dog bite or attack

After a dog attack, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury lawyer. The steps you need to take to sue for a personal injury apply to dog bite cases. An attorney will prepare your case, guide you through the filing process, and have everything you need to build your case.

Ideally, you’ll document the incident when it occurs. This may mean writing notes and taking photos or videos during or after the attack. It’s crucial you note the time and location and any factors that may have contributed to the incident. Ideally, you’ll also have contact information for any witnesses.

You should save your medical bills and other relevant documentation to justify expenses claimed when you file for damages. Your attorney can help you identify other grounds for damages to ensure you seek the maximum compensation available. Your attorney will file the legal paperwork before the statute of limitations expires and will handle negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company.

When should you sue for dog bite injuries?

Dog bite victims have 48 months to file a lawsuit. The four-year period begins on the day of the attack, and the state sets this limit; once the statute of limitations expires, you can’t take legal action against the dog’s owner. 

What can I sue for in a dog bite case?

You can seek monetary and non-monetary damages from a dog bite lawsuit. The amount you seek depends on your related expenses and the severity of your injuries.

Monetary or economic damages are calculated by adding up the bills related to costs stemming from your attack. Economic damages you can seek can include compensation for the following:

  • Childcare costs 
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills 
  • Property damage 
  • Transportation costs

You can also seek non-monetary damages, which provide compensation for things such as the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of intimacy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Legal damages in a dog bite case could also include punitive damages if the dog’s owner is guilty of gross negligence. Suppose the owner encouraged the attack and retained the dog despite knowing it had attacked multiple people. In that case, the courts could conclude the owner is guilty of gross negligence and assign additional financial penalties in the form of compensation paid to the victim.

Call Tampa’s premier dog bite lawyer today

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Contact Tampa’s premier dog bite lawyer to discuss your dog bite case today. We have decades of experience helping victims receive justice through injury lawsuits. We’ll handle the investigation and gather evidence to support your claim while fighting for you to receive compensation after your dog bite attack. 


Buchholz, K. (2021). Americans’ Favorite Furry Friends

Comparative negligence. (2022). 

Driscoll, B. (2022). Florida Personal Injury Statute Of Limitations 2023

FLA. STAT. § 767.04.

Xu, J., et al. (2023). QuickStats: Number of Deaths Resulting from Being Bitten or Struck by a Dog,* by Sex — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2011–2021.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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