Can a Dog Attack Constitute Wrongful Death?
Author: Armando Edmiston
Last summer, a 66-year-old Florida man was walking his small dog outside his home when another dog, that was also being walked, escaped from its leash and attacked the smaller dog. The man was knocked down, but managed to stumble back to his driveway before he collapsed on the ground. His last words to his wife were that he had been “attacked by the neighbor’s dog.”
By the time paramedics arrived, he was unresponsive. After apparently suffering five heart attacks over a three-day hospitalization, he was taken off life support and died. The neighbors were cited for not obeying the city’s leash law.
Can a dog attack, when the person attacked was not bitten, give rise to a wrongful death claim when that person dies of a heart attack? The answer seems to be yes. Under Florida law, dog owners are liable for any injury their dogs cause to persons or property.
Wrongful Death Damages After a Dog Attack
It is true that no amount of money can replace the hole in the heart a person feels at the untimely death of a loved one. That is especially true when the death was caused by negligence. Under Florida law, when a person’s negligence causes the death of another, the family members of the deceased have a right to file a claim for damages.
When dog owners do not follow the law, and negligently allow their animal to run free, and the dog attacks a person, causing that person’s death, they can be held liable for wrongful death. Elements you have to prove under Florida law in order to collect for damages due to the death of your loved one caused by a dog attack are:
- The defendant was negligent in allowing his or her dog to run free.
- It was this negligence that caused the dog to attack the deceased and it was the dog attack that was the cause of the death.
- If the deceased had lived, he or she could have collected damages for personal injury.
- You suffered damages due to the ill-timed death of your loved one.
Damages available for you may depend on your relationship to the deceased. An overview of what damages you may be entitled to includes:
- Medical expenses incurred by your loved one from the time of the dog attack until the person’s death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- If you are a spouse, you can collect damages for loss of companionship and consortium.
- Financial support you expected to receive from the decedent if she or he had lived.
- Pain and suffering experienced by your loved one before the untimely death.
- Your own pain and suffering over your loss.
- Other damages as the court sees fit.
If someone you love died after a dog attack, whether that person was attacked and died later without being bitten, or died from bites sustained in the attack, contact one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys at the Ask2Amigo Law Firm.