Did you know that you might have a case for compensation if you are injured in a dog attack or by a dog bite? This is especially true if you can show that the owner or handler of the dog in question was negligent in some way.

Some dog breeds are banned in Miami, due in part to them being considered dangerous. If you are attacked by one of these dogs, you may have a better case if you can demonstrate that the owner had the dog illegally. Talking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case can help you understand what options you have for seeking compensation.

What Does Florida Law Say About Certain Dog Breeds?

Florida doesn’t have a law about any specific dog breeds, which means under state law, you can own whatever type of dog you might like. However, the state does leave rules about breeds up to localities, such as counties and cities, so this is not true in every location in the state.

However, Florida law does include some restrictions related to potentially dangerous dogs. The state considers a dog to be dangerous in any of the following cases:

  • The dog has a history that includes killing or seriously injuring another domestic animal, including livestock, when the dog was not on its owner’s property
  • The dog has, in the past, seriously injured a person via bite or another attack, regardless of location
  • A witness has reported seeing the dog behave aggressively toward a person in a public location, such as a park or on the sidewalk of a street, and that person did not do anything to provoke the aggression; in this case, the event must have been reported and investigated by an authority such as animal control

If any dog—of any breed—is found to have bitten or attacked a person after being deemed a “dangerous dog” under Florida law, the owner of that dog can be charged with a misdemeanor. These are the types of facts that may also be pertinent in a civil lawsuit. If you can show the owner knew the dog had a tendency toward aggression or was deemed dangerous, that might help prove liability on their part for any damages the dog caused. 

Miami’s Breed-Specific Legislation

Miami-Dade County has more specific rules about dogs. Miami-Dade County ordinances make it illegal to own a pit bull dog, including American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or American Staffordshire Terriers. 

A dog doesn’t need a certification from the American Kennel Club as a pure-bred pit bull to qualify under this law. The ordinance clarifies that if an expert, such as a zoologist, veterinarian, or animal control officer, testifies that a dog “exhibits distinguishing physical characteristics of a pit bull,” that may be enough to establish a reasonable belief that the dog is, in fact, a pit bull.

Miami’s laws about pit bulls go even further, requiring certain locations to post signs in English, Creole, and Spanish. The signs must state:

  • Since 1990, it has been illegal to acquire a new pit bull in Miami-Dade County
  • Failing to register, muzzle, and insure a pit bull comes with steep penalties
  • Individuals who feel threatened by pit bulls being kept illegally near their homes or places of work or play should report the issue to Miami-Dade County

Vet offices and clinics, kennels, dog breeders, pet shops, dog grooming businesses, and other related locations can be charged a $500 fine if they don’t post the sign.

Note that this doesn’t mean you’ll never see a pit bull in Miami-Dade County. Someone who lives outside of the area and owns a pit bull might travel into the county to seek services for their dog or bring their dog with them when visiting family, for example. 

How Do Miami’s BSL Rules Relate to Dog Bite Cases?

Because pit bulls are so regulated in the Miami-Dade area, if you are bitten or attacked by one, its owner may be breaking the law in even having the dog. The fact that someone flaunted the law in owning the dog might be an important factor in making your case for compensation, because it could indicate negligence and a disregard for the law and safety of others.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Personal injury cases can be complex, though, and you can’t always assume one fact in your favor wins the entire case. Even in a case involving a pit bull, for example, you may have to prove facts such as:

  • The dog actually is a pit bull
  • The owner was breaking the law 
  • The owner was negligent in the incident
  • You didn’t provoke the dog into action (though this burden of proof may be reduced if the dog was considered dangerous already)
  • You suffered specific injuries and losses due to the attack

Working with a personal injury attorney for your dog bite case can help you understand your options. An experienced lawyer can guide you through building a case for compensation and help ensure any potentially liable party is listed on the lawsuit to improve your chances at a successful outcome. 

If you’re dealing with an injury after a dog bit or attack, reach out to the team at Lipcon & Lipcon today for a consultation. We’ll listen to your story and let you know how we can help.