Florida law sees dogs as property and holds property owners responsible for injuries their property causes. As such, dog owners may be liable for any injuries their dogs cause.
But holding a dog owner liable for your car accident can be tricky. Like all accidents, your claim must establish that the defendant’s negligence caused your accident and injuries, which requires thorough investigation of your case. Make sure you have legal representation to prove your case and get compensation. Call 954-524-2820.
To prove your case, you must establish the following:
This can be difficult. Even if it is abundantly obvious that a dog caused the accident – e.g., running into traffic and causing a vehicle to swerve, leading to the accident – the dog may become scared and run away from the scene.
Do your best to identify the dog’s owner at the scene of the accident. If the dog is with its owner, get the dog and dog owner’s information. If the dog is alone, do not approach it; instead, call animal control and wait until they arrive. If the dog ran away, you may have to talk to people in the area and ask if they know who owns the dog.
To recover damages, you will need to prove the dog caused your accident.
For example, if you were driving down the road and obeying all traffic laws when a dog ran in front of your car causing you to swerve and slam into a light pole, you can argue the accident would not have occurred had the dog not run into the road.
However, if you were reading a text and looked up to see a dog standing in the road (that you would have had time to avoid had you not been texting), it will be more difficult to prove the accident would not have occurred had the dog not been there.
You cannot sue a dog, so if a stray dog caused your accident, you may be unable to recover damages. Therefore, you need to prove that the dog not only has an owner, but that the owner’s negligence led to the dog causing the accident. Proving a dog owner’s negligence will require you to show that the owner of the dog violated a law or failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
Common examples of negligence include:
Finally, you will need to prove that the dog’s actions – e.g., running into traffic, jumping on the dog owner’s lap while he or she was driving – caused the accident and that you suffered injuries as a result. You will need to establish your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
In order to prove the elements of your accident claim, you will need to present evidence, such as:
In some cases, yes. For example, if the dog was under the control of a veterinarian or kennel, and the staff at the vet’s office or kennel failed to secure a gate, allowing the dog to roam free and ultimately cause an accident, the vet or kennel office may be liable.
Further, if you are rear-ended when trying to avoid a dog, you may be able to hold the driver behind you liable for following too closely and the dog owner for allowing the dog to run free.
Car accidents caused by dogs are like any other type of accident in terms of what damages you can recover. Injured motorists may be able to recover a variety of damages including:
You can and should hold a dog owner liable if his or her dog caused your accident. The car accident lawyers at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrmann, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale can help you file your claim against a negligent dog owner or other party. Give us a call today: 954-524-2820.