Pit Bull Attacks 3-Year-Old in Groveland

Personal Injury

A three-year-old boy was bitten on his head and neck on December 21, 2016 in Groveland, Florida.  The incident happened when a pit bull belonging to the boy’s neighbor attacked the boy and his mother as they were walking into their neighbor’s backyard to see another dog.  The injuries were described by Groveland police as “extensive.”  The boy was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital for medical treatment.  The child is in stable condition.

Florida Holds Dog Owners To A Strict Liability Standard, Subject To Some Defenses

The real issues in this case are likely to be 1) how well the boy makes a medical recovery and 2) whether there is liability insurance coverage under a homeowner’s policy for this incident.  In Florida, dog owners are held to a strict liability standard for dog bites unless there is provocation that caused the dog to act out.  In addition, the owners of a mean dog can get a defense if they post a “bad dog” sign on their property that should warn people to stay away from the property.

In this particular case, it seems as if the boy and his mother had permission to go onto the property as it was reported that they were there to “visit a different dog.”  There was no mention of trespassing or a bad dog.  Therefore, we must assume that the neighbor knew of the presence of the boy and his mother.  This is likely a situation under Florida law where there is no valid defense against the attack and the dog owner is going to be held strictly liable for the injury in a court of law should the case proceed that far.

Insurance Makes The World Go ‘Round

With a prima facie case of liability, the next issue is whether there is a “deep pocket” to collect from.  This can be in the form of either insurance or assets in the event that insurance is either inadequate or unavailable.  You should not assume that just because a person does not have insurance that they do not have assets that are reachable by a civil judgment.  Whether to sue or not is a decision that should be made after carefully evaluating the situation with the help of a legal professional.  While more and more homeowner’s policies are excluding coverage for dog bites or attacks, those very same people may have assets that are reachable.

Talk To A Central Florida Dog Bite Attorney For Free Advice

If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury as a result of attack by a dog, you should contact a Polk County dog bite attorney for a free case review.  It is particularly tragic when an attack by a dog results in serious facial injuries that leave a child’s face disfigured for life or permanently scarred.  Those are the cases that warrant a careful investigation into collecting from the dog owner.  Many dog owners feel guilty restraining “mean” dog breeds, however, when those “mean” dog breeds attack and cause injury, the dog owner is the only who should be punished for not properly preventing a significant or severe injury from occurring.  We know one thing for sure-these injuries do not occur when the dogs are properly fenced, caged, or restrained.




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December 24, 2016