How long do I have to file a dog bite lawsuit in Florida?

Get the specifics on Florida’s statute of limitations deadline for filing dog bite cases in court. If you think you may end up being involved in a dog bite lawsuit in Florida, you need to understand the statute of limitations and how it applies to your situation. This is true for anyone who has been injured by a dog — whether by a bite, by getting knocked down, or through some other act of aggression. And dog owners may be interested in this law too, if they’re worried that they might be slapped with a lawsuit over an incident involving their dog. A little bit of background: A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on your right to bring a case to court. Every state has these kinds of laws on the books, and there are different deadlines depending on the kind of case you’re filing. The statute of limitations for dog bite lawsuits in Florida is found in Florida Statutes Annotated section 95.11, which sets a four year deadline for the filing of “an action founded on negligence” and for “an action founded on a statutory liability.” Either could apply to a dog bite case, since a dog owner’s negligence could lead to a bite or other injury, and since Florida has passed a statute creating near-automatic liability for dog owners whose animals injure someone. Under Florida Statutes Annotated section 767.01 and section 767.04, owners are strictly liable for bites or other injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether or not the owner was negligent or otherwise did anything wrong. (Learn more about Strict Liability: Dog Bite Statutes.) The four-year “clock” starts running on the day the dog bite occurs, and only in very rare circumstances will the clock pause or “toll” under Florida law. Talk to an attorney for the details on when the statute of limitations deadline might be extended in Florida. If you try to file your lawsuit after the deadline set by the statute of limitations has passed, the dog owner will almost certainly point this out in a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. The court will grant the dismissal, except in rare cases where an exemption from the deadline applies. If your case is dismissed, you’re left without a legal remedy for your dog bite injuries. So, even if you’re pretty sure your case will settle (maybe you’re negotiating a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance carrier), you want to still leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit if you need to. If you’re worried that the filing deadline is approaching, it may be time to contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to make sure you keep your options open.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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