Florida Dog Leash Laws - Dog Bite Injuries
In the State of Florida, a dog owners have a general duty to maintain control of his or her dog. Whether the dog is a small sized, medium sized, or large sized dog, the duty to maintain control of the dog is the same. It also does not matter if the dog has no history of violence or aggression. A dog owner should maintain control over his or her dog. There is no Stateside dog leash law in the State of Florida. The implementation of a specific dog leash law rests with the local government authority which may be a city, town, or county. Certainly, following the applicable State and local law is important. There are responsibilities with the ownership of a dog.
Keep in mind that the State of Florida does have statewide laws in effect for dog bite injuries. If a dog bites a person, the dog owner under most circumstances is liable for the resulting injuries under the doctrine of Strict Liability. Let's discuss a general fact pattern. Let's say that Bill Jones is walking his dog on a leash. Bill Jones is complying with the county dog leash ordinance. While walking down the public sidewalk, the dog lurched at a child who was passing by on a skateboard. The dog got frightened and bit the child in the leg. The child suffered injuries requiring a visit to the emergency room and 8 stitches to the leg. The child, who was 10 years old, did not intentional provoke the dog or do anything else that was negligent in nature. Likewise, the dog owner, under this fact pattern, was not negligent. The dog had never been aggressive in the past. The dog had never bitten an adult or a child. Finally, the dog owner and dog went on this particular walk five days a week for a year. As such, the dog was familiar with its surroundings. Again, the dog had never been aggressive in the past. Under the doctrine of Strict Liability, the dog owner under this fact pattern would still be liable. Keep in mind that fault is not a required element in a Dog Bite Strict Liability case.
Let's change the above facts just a bit. Let's say that the dog in the above example was not on a leash. The dog bit the child and the same personal injuries as described above took place. Under this fact pattern, the dog owner violated the applicable dog leash laws and was negligent. Again, under the Strict Liability doctrine, these additional facts would not be necessary.
It is important for dog owners to follow the law. Certainly, compliance with the local dog leash laws can help prevent many dog bite incidents that occur. Dog bite injury cases even with the application of the Florida Dog Bite Strict Liability Law can be quite complicated. Insurane companies will contest the injuries and attempt to defend the case based on some of the defenses that are available by statute. Namely, the insurance may argue that the dog bite victim was a trespasser if the dog bite injury too place on the dog owner's property. The insurance company may also take the position that the dog bite victim improperly provoked the dog. One major issue or hurdle that applied to Florida Dog Bite Personal Injury Claims involves the availability and application of liability insurance or homeowner's insurance. Many liability insurance policies and homeowner's insurance policies exclude coverage for dog bite related injuries. Some policies allow for coverage of personal injuries but may exclude certain breeds from coverage.
Homeowners with dogs residing on the property or with dogs visiting the property should read through the homeowner's insurance policy to determine if dog bite incidents are covered. A telephone call with the insurance agent BEFORE a dog bite incident ever occurs it the best time to contact the agent to determine coverage and make changes to the policy if possible.
David A. Wolf is a personal injury attorney with 27 years of experience handling personal injury cases including those related to dog bite cases. He understands the nuances, twists, turns, and stressed related to a dog bite injury. David A. Wolf provides a Free Consultation for all dog bite cases. If the case is accept for representation, the case will be handled by David A. Wolf on a contingency basis which means that there will be no fees or costs due to David A. Wolf unless there is a financial recovery or settlement.