Dog bite liability laws vary from State to State. Some of the genre of laws are as follows:
1. Negligence Standard. Under the negligence standard, a dog owner is liable if the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had dangerous propensities but failed to take preventative actions to protect children and others from the aggressions of the dog.
2. One Bite Standard. Under the one bite standard, a dog owner is not liable for the first bite of the dog but after the first bite or first incident – then the dog owner may be held liable for the damages or injuries caused by the dog.
In the State of Florida, dog are present in virtually every neighborhood. Dog ownership is both a great job and an important responsibility. In the State of Florida, a dog owner is strictly liable when the dog bites another person. While there are some exceptions to this general law and rule, the dog owner is typically liable for the dog bite related injuries in the State of Florida. When a person is bit by a dog, there is often a question or issue as to insurance question. As a Florida Child Injury Lawyer, the following question is often asked:
Is Homeowner’s Insurance Required to Cover Dog Bite Related Personal Injuries?
The simple answer to this question is “No”. Of course, there is more to the question and answer as stated. First, if there is dog bite related coverage under the homeowner’s insurance policy, then the insurance carrier should provide compensation for the dog bite victim; however, many insurance policies in the State of Florida either do not cover dog bite related injuries or there is an exception or exemption in the Florida homeowner’s insurance policy for dog bite related injuries.
In Florida, a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by a dog bite or dog attack pursuant to Section 767.01, Florida Statutes. Under this law, a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog bite or dog attack. In other words, the injury victim is not required to proof fault, knowledge, or predisposition to attack by the dog in order to prevail on a legal claim or lawsuit. As noted in Knapp v. Ball, 175 So.2d 808 (Fla. 3rd D.C.A. 1965), there was not assumption of risk by a dog bite victim by her mere presence in the Defendant’s house as a guest. The Third District Court of Appeal further noted that liability is based on a legal obligation rather than on negligence. Furthermore, scienter or knowledge of a dog’s prior aggressiveness is not required for such a case.
In most cases, a dog owner is strictly liable for the actions of his or her dog that cause injury to a victim. There are some exceptions to this general rule. When a person is injured as a result of a dog bite attack, there are often times many issues or challenges faced by the dog bite victim including medical bills, medical treatment, insurance coverage, damages, pain and suffering, and other issues.
Florida and other States have unique laws in place for dog bite injuries and attacks. These cases are much different than other types of injury cases like automobile accidents, slip and falls, and other incidents.
In Florida, children are the unfortunate victims of dog bite incidents and attacks. It was reported that an 11 year old Florida girl was bitten and attacked by a Florida Pit Bull breed type of dog. Trinity Ciolfi, age 11, was bitten when leaving a friend’s house. She was later admitted to the hospital with fractured arms and lacerations. There was a large area on her arm that was injured as a result of the attack. Government officials put the dog under a 10 day quarantine. Unfortunately, the dog did not have its Rabies shots in order. See Dog Attack of a Central (Brevard County) Florida Girl.
Following a dog bite / attack injury to a child, there are many issues and challenges for a parent to deal with. Florida dog bite cases are governed by Chapter 767, Florida Statutes and local dog leash and dangerous dog ordinances and laws. Florid has a strict liability law in place for dog bite injuries. In other words, a dog owner is liable for a dog bite even if the dog did not have a history of aggression. A dog owner is liable regardless of its propensity or likelihood that it would bite a child or adult. Strict liability is different than common negligence which would require that the dog owner did something wrong or was at fault for the dog bite related injuries. In Florida, the privilege of dog ownership comes with it the responsibility for the acts and bites of the dog. There are some limited exceptions to the strick liability laws in Florida. For instance, a dog owner may be able to avoid responsibility if the dog bite victim was a trespasser and / or the dog bite victim purposely provoked the dog. In most dog bite attacks, the injured child is simply a victim who deserves compensation under Florida law for the injuries suffered as a result of the dog attack / dog bite.
Most Florida counties have a leash law in place. See Florida Dog Leash Laws – County by County. In addition, most Florida counties have a dangerous dog law in place. See Florida Dangerous Dog Laws – County by County. When a child is injured as a result of a dog bite, it is important to consult with a Florida Dog Bite attorney as to the rights of the injured child. In pursuing these cases, it is often helpful if the dog bite owner has homeowner’s insurance in place that covers damages for dog bite injuries. Unfortunately, many homeowner’s insurance policies have exemptions for dog bite injuries or animal attacks. If there is no coverage in place, the dog owner is still legally liable for the injuries or damage; however, payment for these damages must come directly from the Florida dog owner rather than the homeowner’s insurance company.
Is a Dog Owner Liable for a Dog Attack that Does Not Result in a Dog Bite? The simple answer to this question is “Yes”. Pursuant to Section 767.01, Florida Statutes, owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person or to any animal included in the definitions of “domestic animal” and “livestock” as provided by Florida Statutes – Section 585.01.
The pursuit of a Florida dog bite case or a Florida dog attack case often times involves an interpretation of statutes and case law. A Florida Dog Bite Attorney can help the dog bite victim with advice, consultation, and legal representation regarding these matters.
In Josephson v. Sweet, 173 So.2d 463 (Fla. 3rd D.C.A. 1964), the Third District Court of Appeal noted that a dog owner can be liable for a dog bite and / or a dog attack that causes personal injuries. In Josephson, the Court noted that there is no requirement in a dog attack case to prove or allege that the owner of the dog had prior knowledge of the vicious or dangerous propensities of the dog. The Court also noted that Section 767.01, Florida Statutes, did not require prior knowledge or prior bad acts of the dog to pursue a lawsuit against the dog owner for personal injuries suffered as a result of a dog attack.
In Orange County, Florida, a hearing was held to determine the fate of a German Shepherd breed dog who bit a 3 year old girl at a park. It was reported by the Orlando Sentinel that the dog bit 3 year old – Erica Leinhart – in the face. Following the dog bite incident, the Orange County Animal Service held a hearing to hear statements from the dog owner (Joseph Marcica) and the girls’ parents – David and Alicia Leinhart. The father stated that the injuries to his daughter’s face met the criteria as established by Florida law to meet the injury type that would justify the standard for euthansia of the dog. There were also statement presented by neighbors of the dog owner as to the prior acts of the dog. The dog owner countered with statements that the dog was not dangerous.
With respect to the animal service hearing, a decision will be made as to the fate of the dog. Whatever decision is made, the fact remains that a child suffered a serious personal injury as a result of a dog attack in Florida. Far too often, children are the unfortunate victims of dog bite attacks. Many of these dog bite incidents are preventable.
In Florida, children are the unfortunate victims of dog bite injuries. Many Florida dog bite attacks can be prevented if the owner utilizes a proper leash and otherwise maintains control of the dog. Florida law provides for Strict Liability of dog owner when there is a dog attack. In other words, in most Florida dog attack cases, the dog owner is liable even if there is no prior history of aggression by the dog. In Florida, dog ownership comes with its responsibilities. In Orlando, Florida, a 3 year old girl – Erica Leinhart – suffered serious facial injuries when she was bit by a German Shepherd breed dog. The injuries were so severe that Erica required plastic surgery. The incident took place at the Blue Jacket Park in the playground area. A day at the playground for this little girl turned into a very traumatic and painful event for her. Following the dog attack, animal control investigated the incident and will hold a hearing to determine the fate and future of the dog. The parents of Erica Leinhart believe that the dog is dangerous. The dog owner believes otherwise. The problem is that the dog already attacked one little girl. See Orlando, Florida – Girl Attacked by Dog at Park. See also Florida Leash Laws – County by County and Florida Dangerous Dog Laws – County by County.
A parent face many challenges and issues when dealing with a serious injury to a child. Florida provides for many laws and protections for children. Even with these laws in place, children are still injured. Laws are violated and children are injured. The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Dog Bite Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Medical Bills / Treatment, Damages / Compensation, and other topics. A parent or other interested person can receive this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.