Animal attacks are vicious and painful incidents that can lead to significant medical issues. However, a given person’s liability in an animal attack has nothing to do with how extensive the injuries are and everything to do with the circumstances of the attack. If there is something to warn or protect the public about from dangerous dogs on your property, you must take a reasonable step to ensure that.
What is reasonable?
Specific to animal attacks, reasonability has two aspects to it. First, you must be reasonably aware that animals pose a danger on your property. Florida law is clear on what defines a dangerous dog, including:
- A dog that has bitten or attacked a person on public or private property
- A dog that has chased or bitten livestock while off the dog owner’s property
- A dog that has menacingly chased people without provocation
The next thing you must do is ensure that people are aware of the danger or there is a barrier between the public and your property. This could be notices, warnings or even fencing. If the dangerous animal is a pet, proper leash use will likely keep you from being held liable.
What about wild animals?
While the law speaks explicitly to “dangerous dogs,” property owners may have liability in wild animal attacks on their property. If the property owner knows of a wild animal on their property, they must take reasonable care to prevent injury.
However, trespassers do not gain the full rights of safety that guests and vendors do, and it may be a less significant case. That, however, would be for a court to decide.