By: Grace Hancock
Getting Injured by Livestock in Florida Is More Common Than You Might Think
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. Farms, ranches, and groves, either raising livestock or growing vegetables, fruits, and of course, citrus, can be found throughout the state.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been injured in a car crash caused by loose cattle or other livestock, you have a right under Florida law to make a personal injury claim against the owner of the animal or animals 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 section to focus on is section 588.15 of this 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.”
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. Privately-owned roads are not included in the statute’s definition of “public roads,” which can be found under section 588.13 of chapter 588. Therefore, a car accident involving loose livestock occurring on a private road is not covered under the law. It’s because of this that you need to stay alert and aware and drive cautiously if, for whatever reason, you find yourself driving down a privately-owned road in an area where you know there to be cattle and other livestock.
- If the owner owns the land the animal(s) involved in the accident came from, but does not themselves own the animal(s) in question. If an animal or group of animals stray onto public roads and cause an accident resulting in injury and that animal or those animals are located on land legally owned by an individual but are not themselves 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 unkempt wooden area technically owned by an individual and causes a car crash on a nearby road, then the landowner can not be held liable for the damages caused by the wild hog.
- If the owner cannot be proven liable for damages caused. In most cases, an owner may be held liable for negligence if they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent injury caused by their escaped animal(s). However, if an animal or animals escape and cause injury in spite of their owner taking all reasonable precautions, then the owner may not be held liable for damages, making it all the more important that you are able to prove the liability of the at-fault party. To give an example, cattle may escape from their fencing despite the efforts the owner took to properly fence in their cattle if the fencing is damaged by a fallen tree or some other fallen large object in a storm or hurricane, therefore making that owner not liable for any damages their runaway cattle may have caused.
Why Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer if You Are Injured By Livestock?
We understand that the law can be confusing, especially in the bizarre case of having been injured by livestock. That is why we are here to help you investigate and figure it out to put you in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. A personal injury attorney will be able to help in finding evidence and witnesses and with dealing with insurance companies, all while you focus on healing. We also are willing and ready to file a lawsuit if the at-fault party does not agree to a fair settlement outside of litigation. We have the ability to utilize our available resources to hire third-party witnesses for accident reconstructions or medical expertise. Throughout the case you owe us nothing, we only get paid if we win your case.
While this type of incident isn’t an everyday occurrence, when it does happen an injury caused by livestock can be severe. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to a farmer or rancher’s negligence of their own livestock, 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.