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Court Allows Case to Proceed Against Dog Owners for Injuries Caused by “Chasing”

Earlier last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion that gave the victim of a potential dog attack another chance to bring their case to trial after it was dismissed by a lower court. In the case, Grammer v. Lucking, the plaintiff alleged an injury caused, not by the dog actually biting her, but by her reaction to what she believed to be a dangerous dog quickly approaching her.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a woman who was out on a walk with her husband in their neighborhood. As they approached the defendant’s home, they noticed that the defendant had two dogs out in front of his property, one chained and one unchained. As the plaintiff got near, the dogs ran towards her. The woman’s husband stepped out in front of her, hoping to get the dogs to stop. The dog that was chained reached the end of its chain and was unable to approach the couple. However, the unchained dog continued to approach.

As the dog passed the woman’s husband, she became nervous and stepped back. As she did, she tripped and fell, injuring her elbow. She filed a lawsuit in strict liability against the dogs’ owner.

At trial, the court considered the applicable law, which established liability only when a dog bites, chases, or injures a person. The court then dismissed the case, explaining that the dog never bit or chased the woman. The plaintiff appealed to a higher court, arguing that the lower court failed to consider whether the dog “injured” her. She also claimed that the lower court’s definition of “chase” was too narrow and that under other available definitions the dog did chase her.

On Appeal, the Plaintiff is Successful

The plaintiff was able to convince the appellate court that the lower court’s judgment was in error. The appellate court agreed that the lower court should have considered whether the dog’s conduct “injured” the woman. Furthermore, the appellate court noted that the lower court applied only one of three available definitions for “chase,” and it should have considered all three.

Dog Injury Cases in Florida

In Florida, the statute allowing for compensation after an injury caused by a dog is quite broad. Of course, if a dog bites someone, that likely will satisfy the requirements of the statute. However, the statute does allow for some limited defenses if there is a sign and potentially if the injured person is trespassing. In cases in which the injury is not caused by a bite, the law may still allow for recovery under the general statute making dog owners “liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person.”

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Dog?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you recoup the costs associated with your injuries. To learn more about dog bite cases in Florida, and to speak with a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney, call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to you unless we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.

More Blog Posts:

Alcohol-Related Accidents on Florida Roads, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 14, 2016.

The Lasting Effects of Serious Auto Accident Injuries, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 7, 2016.

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