Beware of Dog Signs in Florida- What’s the Use?

Even though most people (myself included) view our dogs as a family members rather than pets, the law in Florida makes a huge distinction. How many times do you see a property with a “Beware of Dog” sign posted? Every time I see that sign, it shows me how much lay people are simply unaware the sign has no effect under the law.

In order to protect yourself, you must have a sign that says “Bad Dog.” A sign that says “Beware of Dog” has no effect. A sign that says “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Bad Dog” does.

I assume that most people post the sign with the intention of warning others that there is a dog on the premises and to enter at their own risk. However, the law does not give any effect to that sign. If someone does get hurt from your dog, you could still be responsible.

Under Florida Statute 767.04, the legislature very specifically set out to limit liability of landowners who post a sign with the “Bad Dog” language. If you have the appropriate sign posted, you could shift some of the responsibility for the injury back onto the injured party. Now, as a landowner, you could still be responsible for injuries to someone under the age of 6, regardless of the sign. For advice regarding a specific incident with your dog, it is best to contact a qualified attorney. Otherwise, seek out the sign with “Bad Dog” and post it on a visible part of your property.

You may be asking yourself, “Why does it have to say ‘Bad Dog’? That seems silly.” I think the legislature wanted to make sure someone as young as 6 could read the sign. A 6 year old may not know how to read the word “Beware” but can more likely read the word “Bad.”

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