By: Grace Hancock
Imagine a situation where you’re driving down one of Florida’s many roadways and you crash into a runaway cow from a nearby farm. As “straight out of a cartoon” as this situation might seem, on Florida’s roads, it’s not that far-fetched!
As you may already know, agriculture plays a significant role in Florida’s economy. Throughout the state, you can find farms, ranches, and groves, either raising livestock or growing vegetables, fruits, and citrus.
If a car crash caused by loose cattle or other livestock leaves you injured, you have a right under Florida law to make a personal injury claim against the owner of the animal that caused your injuries.
Liability of Owner
Title XXXV, called Agriculture, Horticulture, and Animal Industry, under Florida’s 2020 statutes, includes a chapter, chapter 588, titled “legal fences and livestock at large.” The important part to focus on is section 588.15 of the chapter, called “liability of owner.”
Section 588.15 states that “every owner of livestock who intentionally, willfully, carelessly, or negligently suffers or permits such livestock to run at large upon or stray upon the public roads of this state shall be liable in damages for all injury and property damage sustained by any person by reason thereof.”
When the Owner Is Not Liable
However, an owner may not be held liable for damages for any of the following reasons;
If the accident occurred on a privately-owned road
The statute’s definition of “public roads” does not include privately-owned roads. You can find this definition under section 588.13 of chapter 588. Therefore, the law does not cover car accidents involving loose livestock occurring on a private road. It’s because of this that you need to stay alert and drive cautiously when on a privately-owned road where you know there to be cattle and other livestock.
If the owner owns the land the animal came from but does not own the animal in question
If the stray animal is from land legally owned by an individual but is not legally owned by the same individual, then that person can’t be held liable for damages. For example, if a wild hog lives in an individually owned unkempt wooden area and causes a car crash on a nearby road, then the landowner is not liable for the damages caused by the wild hog.
If you can’t prove the owner is liable for damages
In most cases, an owner is liable for negligence if they fail to prevent their stray animal from causing injury. However, if an animal escapes and cause injury in spite of their owner taking all reasonable precautions, then the owner won’t be held liable for damages. This makes it all the more important that you are able to prove the liability of the at-fault party. For example, cattle may escape from their fencing despite the efforts the owner took to properly fence in their cattle. Fencing may be damaged suddenly by a fallen tree or some other fallen large object in a storm or hurricane, therefore making the owner not liable for any damages their runaway cattle may have caused.
Why You Need a Lawyer When Livestock Leave You Injured
We understand that the law can be confusing, especially in the bizarre case of livestock leaving you injured. We are here to help put you in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our personal injury attorneys will be able to help in finding evidence and witnesses. We also deal with insurance companies, all so you can focus on healing. Our lawyers will file a lawsuit if the at-fault party doesn’t agree to a fair settlement outside of litigation. Our firm has the ability to utilize our available resources to hire third-party witnesses for accident reconstructions or medical expertise. At Hancock Injury Attorneys, we work on a contingency fee basis. We only receive payment when we win your case.
While this type of incident isn’t an everyday occurrence, when it does happen, the injuries can be severe. If a farmer’s negligence of their own livestock causes you injury, we are here to help. Contact Hancock Injury Attorneys online or by calling us at (813) 534-6319 to get your free case consultation today.