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Loss of a Dog

Loss of a Dog

To many dogs are viewed as close companions and equal members of the family. Therefore, the loss of a dog can be devastating for these individuals. When the loss of a dog occurs due to the intentional malicious behavior of another person, the individual or family may be entitled to compensation for their loss. This compensation may include both financial costs and emotional suffering. In cases of an injured dog, dog owners may be entitled to compensation for costs such as medical bills. Injured Dog When another individual acts in a negligent or careless manner and an injured dog results, the dog owner may be eligible to file a lawsuit. It is important to note that laws regarding legal processes and compensation for an injured dog will vary from state to state. In many states, dogs are legally regarded as personal property of the owner. Therefore, dog owners may be entitled to recover damages, or legal financial compensation, when their property is damaged or destroyed. Compensatory Damages When an owner files a lawsuit for an injured dog, he or she is typically eligible for financial compensation in the form of compensatory damages. These are also referred to as economic damages. Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse the plaintiff, or individual filing the lawsuit. They attempt to cover the costs that the plaintiff accrued as a result of the behavior of the defendant, or individual being sued. In cases of an injured dog, compensatory damages often include the cost of medical care for the injured dog. Compensation for Loss of a Dog In some states, the law acknowledges the fact that dogs hold significant sentimental and emotional value to their owners. When the loss of a dog occurs, owners and families may experience significant mental and emotional burdens when coping with the loss of a companion. This may allow dog owners to collect another form of compensation in addition to compensatory damages, called non-economic damages. Additionally, compensatory damages for loss of a dog may also include compensation for the value of the dog in terms of special skills or training, such as a seeing eye dog or sheep dog. Punitive Damages After the loss of a dog, owners in certain states may also be awarded a type of compensation called punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for an intentional or grossly reckless act. In Florida, this precedent of awarding punitive damages arising out of the malicious killing of a dog was established in the landmark case La Porte v. Associated Independents, Inc. During La Porte, the court awarded Phyllis La Porte with punitive damages after her dog was intentionally harmed by a garbage collector. The dog later died from the injuries. The court noted that punitive damages were not typical for this type of lawsuit. However, the court determined that the garbage collector’s actions were purely malicious, as opposed to simply negligent or careless. For this reason, La Porte was also awarded punitive damages which included damages for the pain and suffering she endured after the loss of her...

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Temporary Custody Liability for Dog Bites

Temporary Custody Liability for Dog Bites

Florida’s dog bite statute (statute 767.04) states that a dog owner holds strict liability for injuries caused by his or her dog. This essentially means that the owner is legally responsible in most cases. The Florida statute differs from dog bite statutes in some other states, which may hold that the injured individual must prove that the dog was a known risk prior to the incident. However, the Florida statute maintains certain exceptions that exempt dog owners from injury liability caused by their dogs. The Florida Supreme Court case Wipperfurth v. Huie discusses liability when another individual, such as a licensed veterinarian, takes temporary custody of a dog. Ultimately, the court ruled that Florida’s dog bite statute still holds the owner liable, even if another individual had temporary custody when the dog bite injury occurred. However, a temporary custodian may be held liable when a claim is made under common law, as opposed to statutory law such as Florida’s dog bite statute. Liability during Temporary Custody There are several ways that a dog owner can relinquish custody of the dog for a short period of time. In the case Wipperfurth v. Huie, Patricia Huie was a kennel worker who was bitten by Kurt Wipperfurth’s dog. The dog bite occurred while Huie was walking the dog. During the incident, the kennel’s owner had temporary custody of the dog after a voluntary agreement with Wipperfurth. This case raised the question of a temporary custodian’s role in a dog bite injury, and whether or not the custodian can be held liable for injuries that occurred while he or she had custody of the dog. Statutory Law versus Common Law To explore this issue, it is important to understand the differences and applications of statutory law versus common law. Statutory law is a law imposed by a state’s statute. In this case, Florida’s dog bite statute is the acting statutory law. Common law comes into play in scenarios where a particular case is resolved based on prior decisions of courts. When a court decision is made, it is used as a precedent in determining future cases. Common Law Independent Contractor Exception In common law, there exists an independent contractor exception to a doctrine called the “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine. The application of this exception in analyzing a dog bite situation states that a temporary custodian of a dangerous item can be held liable for injuries if he or she was aware of the innate dangers of the item. In this case, handling a dog can be seen as an innately dangerous task that a kennel worker voluntarily agrees to in order to fulfill professional duties. However, the court ruled in Wipperfurth v. Huie that the independent contractor exception does not apply to liability for a dog bite injury. This decision was based on the fact that Florida’s dog bite statute exclusively states that an owner is typically liable for dog bite injuries. Because the statutory law regarding ownership is stated clearly, common law was not applicable. Therefore, Wipperfurth was held liable for the injury despite the fact that the injury occurred while his dog was in the temporary custody of the kennel. Common Law Negligence It is important to note that a temporary custodian may still be held liable for a common law negligence...

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