Dog Bites Boy’s Face in Winter Haven

Personal Injury

A four-year-old boy, Michael Roth, was bitten on the face by a dog in Winter Haven, Florida on December 21, 2016 at approximately 12:30 p.m.  The bite resulted in significant facial injuries as the child went to pick up an ornament for a Christmas tree.  Apparently the dog and the boy were trying to pick up the ornament at the same time.  Michael was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando with injuries described as cuts under his eye and on his chin.  The dog owner, Carol Gilpin, was babysitting the boy at the time of the bite.  Animal control officers stated that the dog does not appear to show aggression.  Gilpin was cited for the bite and for not having tags.  The boy’s parents do not want to press charges.

Strict Liability For Dog Bites In Florida

Florida follows a strict liability rule for dog bites unless there is provocation of the dog.  It does not matter if the dog has shown aggression before or has never bitten anyone.  In this particular case, the boy was just doing what kids do when he was bitten.  The dog may have been unfamiliar and chose to attack, as animals can sometimes do, but the owner is still held legally responsible for the bite.

Strict Liability Is The Standard Because Some May Disagree

There are a significant number of “dog lovers” or “animal lovers” out there who believe that their animal can do no wrong.  While I can understand why some people feel this way about their animals, this is precisely why the standard of liability for dog bites is strict liability unless the dog was provoked.  If a person still thinks that an animal can do no wrong, then that person should not be on a jury in a dog bite case.  The dog owner is the person in the best position to prevent an animal from biting.  For instance, if the dog owner knows that the dog gets grumpy when it is tired or hungry, then the dog owner has a responsibility to keep other people away from the dog at those times.

Provocation Of The Dog Is A Defense

With that being said about the dog owner’s liability, it is only fair to consider that the animal, which is one of God’s creatures, is subject to emotions.  Just as any person does not like to be provoked, dogs are given the same benefit of the doubt under Florida law.  For instance, a person causing pain or torture to a dog cannot sue if they are bitten.  However, provocation does not appear to be a defense in this case because the child did not wrong.  The Ledger reports that the dog involved was a Rottweiler mix.  While some people may think a dog like this is cute, I do not.  In my opinion, these dogs are not fit to be pets because they have the potential to cause serious injuries in ways that a breed such as a Shih Tzu never could.  A dog breed such as a Rottweiler should probably have been kept away from a small child.

Call A Lakeland Dog Bite Attorney To Discuss Your Case

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog and suffered an injury, please contact a Lakeland dog bite attorney for a free case review.  The biggest question that needs to be answered in cases such as this one is whether there is applicable liability insurance to pay for the damages.  Unfortunately, more and more homeowner’s policies are beginning to exclude damage by dogs or dog bites.  To find out whether your case has applicable liability insurance, you should hire experienced legal counsel to request the owner’s policy and carefully examine it for coverage exclusions.



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December 21, 2016