Articles Posted in Dangerous Dog Laws

NX_dog_pointer_headprofileIn every Florida community, there are dogs. A dog is commonly referred to as man’s best friend. Dogs are wonderful companions and considered part of the family. Unfortunately for some children, a dog can be viewed as a mean and vicious animal that is dangerous.   A child can be significantly traumatized as a result of a dog bite or dog attack. Some dogs are vicious by nature. Some unfortunately are taught to be vicious.  Most domestic dogs are kind animals but, as animals, a bite or attack can still happen at any time.  A dog could get scared or agitated by a certain sound or smell.  Some dogs, for reasons unknown, just do not like children.  As smart as dogs can be, they are still animals that, at times, take action to protect themselves or protect their owners if they feel threatened in a certain manner.   For some dog owners, the fact that the dog bit or attacked a person comes as a total surprise. For others, it is no surprise at all since the dog previously attacked or bit a person.   
Florida, like some other states, has a strict liability law in place for dog bites or dog attacks.  Prior notice of aggressive behavior is not a requisite to pursue a claim or case.   A dog bite victim need only show that a dog attack took place.  There are some limited exceptions to this general law or rule. For instance, if the child is a trespasser who then is bitten, there may be a defense to an action or a case brought on behalf of the dog bite victim. 
Section 767.04, Florida Statutes provides the following:

dog%20animal%20bites%20leash%20laws.jpgIn 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.

dog%20behind%20bars.jpgIn 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.

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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.

dog%20collar%20and%20crate.jpgPursuant to section 4-2 of the Palm Beach County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, a “dangerous dog” is defined as any dog that

1. Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property;

2. Has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property;

dog%20collar%20and%20crate.jpgHillsborough County, Florida, incorporates Florida Statue sec. 767.11 into its Code of Ordinances to provide the definition of a “dangerous dog.” If you would like to read the plain language of the applicable Florida Statute see the state’s official website under Chapter 767 – Damage by Dogs.

Dangerous dogs are addressed under section 6-43 of the Hillsborough County, Florida, Code of Ordinances. The provisions of chapter 767, Florida Statutes, pertaining to the adoption, all procedures, regulations, requirement and restrictions are applicable. After a dog has been classified as dangerous the owner must obtain a certificate within 14 days from the date of receipt of the notice of intent to declare the dog dangerous. A certificate will only be issued to those owners who are lest 18-years-old, pay the appropriate fee and present sufficient evidence of the requirements provided for in section 767.12, Florida Statutes. In addition, the dog’s owner must also:

1. Sterilize the dog within 30 days of being declared dangerous; and

dog%20bite%20animal%20attack%20mouth%20of%20dog.jpgSarasota County, Florida, incorporates Florida Statue sec. 767.11 into its Code of Ordinances to provide the definition of a “dangerous dog.” If you would like to read the plain language of the applicable Florida Statute see the state’s official website under Chapter 767 – Damage by Dogs.

Vicious Animals are addressed under section 14-40 of the Sarasota County, Florida, Code of Ordinances. The following criteria subject an animal to a vicious animal investigation:

1. If the animal has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack. to cause injury to, or to otherwise endanger the health and safety of human beings or other domestic animals;

dangerous%20dog%2C%20dog%20w%3A%20muzzle.jpgLee County, Florida defines a “dangerous animal” under section 6-30 of its Code of Ordinances. Pursuant to section 6-30, a “dangerous animal” is defined as any animal that has:

1. Aggressively bitten, attacked or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on human being on public or private property;

2. More than once, severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property;

dog%20behind%20bars.jpgDangerous dogs are addressed in the Miami-Dade County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, under sections 5-22 and 5-23. In Miami-Dade County, Florida, a party is liable to another if his or her dog commits any of the following acts:

1. When unprovoked, the dog endangered, attacked or bit a human;

2. When unprovoked and while off the responsible party’s property, the dog severely injured or killed a domestic animal;

dangerous%20dog%2C%20bulldog%20teeth%20closeup.jpgMonroe County, Florida, specifically defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that has:

1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property;

2. Has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property;