Young Children and Florida's Dog Bite Law

Animals and children can make an amazing and adorable pair, a fact demonstrated by countless YouTube videos. Many animals show a particular knack for dealing with young children, making them smile and even tolerating a toddler's innate curiosity. However, while a pet may seem to almost mother a child, vigilant supervision by an adult is critical in order to keep both safe. Attorney Pittman, a Northwest Florida child dog bite lawyer partners with the parents of children injured (or, even killed) by pets, including cases of dog bites child, and understands the special contours of the law involving animals and our youngest Floridians.

Dog Fractures Child's Arm in Second Attack on Human

Dog bite stories are often difficult to read and one that appeared in the News Herald last Friday was even harder to process than most. In July, a male pit bull attacked its owner's boyfriend. Animal Control records, presumably based on the couple's statements, suggest the dog reacted when the man reached back like he was preparing to strike the woman. It attacked, severing the man's picky finger which it appears to have ingested. The dog was seized but, despite warnings from Animal Control, the owner requested the dog back saying she wanted to find it a new home. Since the attack was deemed provoked, the request was granted.

Last week, the dog struck again. Although the owner said precautions were in place, the dog attacked a houseguest's two year-old child, snapping the tot's arm and then biting the parent's ear. The owner blamed one moment of slack supervision and said she'd never have imagined the dog would be capable of the apparently unprovoked attack. Animal Control euthanized the animal the following day. The child has since returned home from the hospital and appears to be okay, including being unafraid of smaller dogs living at the residence.

Florida's Dog Bite Law and the Special Rules Regarding Young Children

As we have noted before, Florida has a dedicated dog bite statute that makes an owner strictly liable for injuries caused when the dog bites a person. This law applies regardless of whether the dog has previously shown aggressive tendencies. It is in addition to the usual rights under the law of negligence, which continue to exist.

Notably, comparative negligence is typically not an issue in strict liability cases. However, the dog bite statute does allow for a reduction in liability to account for the victim's own negligence when that negligence is deemed the proximate cause of the injury. Still, this latter provision is unlikely to apply in the case of a child because Florida case law has determined that a child under age 6 is conclusively deemed incapable of negligence.

This means a dog owner is likely to be held liable for all of the child's injuries even if the child's behavior would be deemed negligent and the proximate cause of the injury had the same behavior involved an adult. The rule would also apply if a dog bite case is brought under typical negligence rules rather than via the dog bite statute.

This result appears intentional given another clause in the dog bite statute. The statute creates an exception to the strict liability rule where the owner has posted a sign warning sign using the words "Bad Dog." However, the statute clearly states this exception does not apply to anyone under six years of age.

A Law Firm for Dog Bite Victims

The dog bite statute is a protection afforded to the people of Florida and both courts and the legislature have found this protection is even greater in the case of young children. We strongly recommend that children always be supervised in the presence of animals, even seemingly docile animals and especially where an animal has a dangerous history.

If your child has been bitten by a dog in the state of Florida, our Panama City dog bit lawyer can help you recover money on his/her behalf. Medical treatment is always a top priority but contacting our team in a timely manner will help ensure

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