By Michael Hancock
In Florida, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages if the animal bites someone or causes other injury or property damage. Florida’s dog bite law provides that when any person is in a public place or lawfully on private property, the dog’s owner is responsible for injuries and associated losses if the dog attacks. It does not matter if the dog had never bitten anyone or displayed vicious behavior before. It does not matter if the dog was on or off a leash. In certain circumstances, a landlord or a third party who was taking care of the dog may be liable. It also is not necessary to suffer an actual bite to claim damages. For instance, injuries incurred in a fall when a dog knocked you down or chased you would be covered. The owner is also liable if a dog killed or injured your pet or damaged your personal property.
The following is one of many personal injury questions asked on avvo.com which attorney Mike Hancock has answered.
Question: My daughter bit by dog while playing outside in our yard and two stray puppies came from down the street and came in our yard. There is no fence. My daughter was outside playing in our front yard and two stray puppies came from down the street in our yard and daughter bit by dpg on her neck, I took her to the doctor and they had to give her a series of rabies prevention shots because we don’t know anything about the dogs, the doctor told me to ask around to find out if anyone in my neighborhood owns the dogs but nobody owned up to the dogs and I never saw the dogs again. What should I do? And who should be liable for this? Is a parent responsible for an auto accident of an adult child living at home?
Mike Hancock’s Answer: The owner of the dogs is liable. You have four years from the date of the incident in which to file a lawsuit, so you have some time to possibly see the dogs again and determine the owners. Call your local animal control and report the incident. You can google your local city or county animal control contact information. My office has found that the Hillsborough County Animal Contol is very responsive. When a report is completed by the Animal Control, keep a copy of the report for your records. Keep your daughters medical records and billing. Take photos of your daughter’s injuries now and as the injury heals. If you are eventually able to determine the ownership of the dogs, you’ll be making a claim against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance, if any. We hope that your daughter is well.
Has your child been bit by a dog? You have our sympathies.
Call 813-915-1110 for your free, no obligation telephone case consultation with attorney Mike Hancock. Or reach us by e-mail. If we don’t recover money for you, you don’t pay us. Phones answered 24/7.