Local Community Ponders Response to Dog Attack
Our Panama City injury lawyer is following the developments in neighboring Lynn Haven City from WHJG about another Northern Florida dog bite case. On Saturday, four pit bulls attacked an eight-year-old boy in the yard of a Missouri Avenue home. Several children were playing in the home's yard while a group of adults were inside. One of the dogs bit the child on the face. A woman attempted to intervene to protect the boy, and was bit on her leg.
Both victims were treated at the hospital and released. Neighbors report that the pit bulls have a history of threatening people, with the victim's mother, Sharon Moore, comparing the animals to a loaded gun. The dogs' owner has turned the animals over to animal control, where they will be quarantined and likely put to sleep.
In response to the attack, the Lynn Haven City Commissioners are considering a proposal placed before them by John Lynch, the City Manager. The proposal would have involved a ban on certain dangerous dog breeds. Further research, however, revealed that the proposed provision would have violated Florida law. Florida has a law that forbids cities from placing a ban on specific breeds of dog. Lynch indicated that the commissioners will likely explore other options to protect citizens against dog bites in Lynn City.
Florida law imposes strict liability on dog owners in dog bite cases. This means that the dog owner is liable for any injury or other damages caused by a dog. A dog bite claim will be considered valid even if the dog has not shown prior signs of aggressiveness, so the concept of "first bite free" does not apply in Florida. However, the amount of damages available may be influenced if the victim's negligence contributed to the injury. This would apply in a case where the victim taunted the dog.
Case law has established that children under six years of age are deemed incapable of committing such acts of contributory negligence. Despite the strict liability stance, the dog bite statute specifically states that an owner will not be held liable, absent extenuating circumstances like the owner ordering the dog to attack, if the incident happens on the owner's property and there is a "Bad Dog" or "Beware of Dog" sign displayed in a prominent place.
Dog owners can help prevent bites by training and socializing the animal and by keeping it on a leash. Children should be taught to ask permission before approaching an unknown animal in case it is an aggressive dog. Dogs should be avoided if they show signs of agitation such as bared teeth, raised hair on the back of the neck, and growling or snarling. If a dog does attack, the victim should lie still and avoid making eye contact, which can be seen as a challenge by the animal. Throwing an object towards a safer area can distract an attacking animal and move its attention toward the object.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite in our area, please call our Panama City dog bite lawyer for assistance in getting the compensation that the law allows.