With respect to personal injury lawsuits, animal attacks and the matter of liability primarily involve dog bites or dog attacks. Other types of animal attacks may occur in the wild or on public land, but typically have no involvement with liability or personal injury law. Dog owners are responsible for their dogs’ behavior and can be held liable if their dog injures another person.
In Florida, the current dog bite statute places direct liability on dog owners for any bite resulting in injury to another human being. Section 767.07 of this statute includes the following language:
“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
Legally speaking, dog attacks involve any dog bite or aggressive behavior exhibited by a dog resulting in physical injury to any adult or child. The vast majority of dog attacks involve small bites or minor nips and are non-vicious. In these cases, a dog is at play and does not intend to cause any harm by nipping or mouthing. However, intentional bites may occur if a dog feels threatened or becomes provoked and agitated. Animal behavior studies have shown that keeping a dog chained up or confined for long periods of time produces stress and anxiety and can lead to a much higher probability of agitation – which results in biting and other aggressive behavior.
The majority of dog bites and attacks involve a child and a neighborhood dog. A child may play too roughly or surprise the dog and get bitten as a result. Most cases are not severe, but some larger breeds can cause considerable flesh damage with even one reactive bite or nip.
The US Center for Disease Control and Injury Prevention recommends that parents teach children basic safety habits for encountering dogs. Safety tips should be reviewed and reinforced on a regular basis:
American Humane Society