The traditional doctrine that makes a person liable for harm inflicted by a domestic animal is referred to as “scienter” (the Latin word for “knowingly”), “common law strict liability,” and “the one bite rule.” As it applies to dog bites, this doctrine holds that a victim can recover compensation from the owner, harborer or keeper of a dog (a) the dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to, and (b) the defendant was aware of the dog’s previous conduct. If either of those conditions are not met, however, this doctrine prevents the victim from recovering anything.
Scienter is a ground for liability in all American states. In Florida, scienter can be used to impose liability on someone other than the owner of the biting dog. Such a person is not included in the dog bite statute because it refers to the “owner” of the dog. For more information about this, see Ownership of a Dog.