Negligence Per Se Dog Bite Law

Negligence per se is a guideline adopted by some states that helps dog attack victims hold dog keepers accountable for dog attack incidents. Negligence per se can be used to recover compensation from dog owners or keepers that have violated a law, statute, municipal code, or ordinance that would have prevented the incident. This guideline helps to establish liability on the basis of the statute or law which was broken.


Commonly Violated Dog Bite Statutes

Violating certain animal control laws or statutes may increase the risk of dog bite incidents. Laws requiring dogs to be on a leash when not confined to the owner’s premises help to ensure safety, yet are some of the most commonly violated dog laws. In many states, these laws are carefully worded to avoid misinterpretations. Leash lengths may be specified and the law may state that a person capable of controlling the dog be holding the leash. In most cases, if leash laws are in place, violations of any part of the law will constitute negligence per se.

Other animal control laws and ordinances for which violation may be considered negligence per se include:

  • Laws prohibiting dogs from trespassing
  • Laws requiring dogs to be contained by the owner at all times
  • Municipal codes restricting the number of dogs a resident may own
  • Ordinances prohibiting dogs from running at large
  • Dog licensing and vaccination requirements
  • Dangerous dog provisions

Proving Negligence Per Se

To prove negligence per se, a dog attack victim must first clearly understand and present the statute which was violated. The victim must then provide evidence or testimony to demonstrate that the statute was violated by the dog owner or keeper. The victim must also show injury or damage which was inflicted by the dog and prove that the damage or injury could have been prevented if the statute was not violated. A lawyer that has experience with dog bite claims may be able to provide assistance with acquiring the necessary evidence to support the negligence per se claim.

Negligence Per Se Complications

In some cases, it may be unclear whether a dog attack incident can be considered negligence per se. If a dog escapes an owner’s residence despite the owner’s efforts to keep the dog contained, it may or may not be considered negligence per se depending on the wording of the statute and the decision of the court. In such cases, words such as “permit” or “allow” within the statute may be called into question. The dog owner may argue that he or she did not “allow” or “permit” a dog that escaped to roam free. The results of these more ambiguous cases may vary, but an experienced attorney will be able to provide advice regarding the probable outcome of the case.




“Dangerous Dog Laws.” Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Polk County Sheriff’s Office, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014 <>.

“Leash/Restraint Laws.” Florida Animal Control Association. Florida Animal Control Association. Web. 12 Sept. 2014 <>

“Online Sunshine.” The 2014 Florida Statutes. The Florida Legislature, 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <>