Wrongful Death – A fatal dog attack

In the State of Florida, Chapter 767 details the rules for damage and death caused by dogs. According to Florida Statute 767.04, a dog owner is liable for damages if a person is bitten while in a public place or is bitten when lawfully on private property. Liability for a dog attack can include wrongful death damages if a dog bite results in a fatality.

Florida statute 768.16 through 768.26 make up the Florida Wrongful Death Act. According to the Act, when a death occurs due to negligence or a wrongful act, a wrongful death claim may be filed if the victim would have been able to make a personal injury claim had non-fatal injuries been sustained.   A wrongful death civil claim can result in the dog’s owner paying  compensation for losses resulting from the untimely death.

In addition to a civil lawsuit, a fatal dog attack can result in additional consequences. According to Florida 767.135, any attack or a bite by a dog which causes death can result in confiscation of the dog by animal control, even if the dog has not previously been declared a dangerous animal. The dog can be held for 10 days, during which time the dog’s owner may request a hearing. At the end of 10 days, the dog will be destroyed in a humane manner.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported approximately 4.5 million dog bites annually in the United States, fatal dog attacks are far more uncommon. Just 34 bite-related fatalities occurred in the United States over the course of 2015.