Update – Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department CAN BE SUED in Negligence for Dog Bite by Sheriff’s K-9
Every year, around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States. Attacks by dogs can be unpredictable; they can be unprovoked and can range from minor injuries to the death of the victim.
Florida’s dog bite law states that if the bite happens in a public place, or lawfully in a private place, the owner of the dog will likely be held liable. A victim, for example, who is trespassing on private property, is not considered to be “lawfully” on the property, and may not be entitled to damages.
Florida law tends to be more favorable to dog bite victims than dog owners. The owner is usually deemed responsible for the dog’s behavior whether or not the owner has any prior knowledge of the dog’s capability of attacking.
Florida Court Rules on Whether Sheriff Is Liable for K-9 Dog Bite
A recent case  handed down by the 2nd District Court of Appeals involved a lawsuit by a person who was bitten by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s K-9 at a baseball stadium in Dunedin, Florida, which is where the Toronto Blue Jays play Spring baseball. The Sheriff attempted to argue that its deputies do not owe a duty to the public when patrolling in a public place with a K-9 unit.
The Second District Court of Appeal was quick to directly shoot down such an argument. Here is an excerpt from the case itself by counsel for the Sheriff:
“If those facts that have been alleged in the Fourth Amended Complaint were sufficient, then we would have the position of the Sheriff, and frankly every law enforcement with a K-9 . . . owing a duty of care to everyone at all times when on patrol in Pinellas County when they have a police dog with them. And that’s not the case.”
On the contrary, this is exactly the case. If it were not, a deputy could wander through a crowd (or stand still) with a K-9 while the K-9 attacks every person who passes by, and the Sheriff’s Department would be immune from liability.
The appellate court made it clear that simply being law enforcement with a K-9 does not immune the Sheriff’s Department from liability for negligence. In fact, the Sheriff’s deputies owe a duty of reasonable care to the public in relation to the K-9 in its custody and control while in a public location.
Learn more: How To Avoid Being Bitten By A Dog
Should You Consult a Lawyer for a Dog Bite or Attack on You or a Loved One?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may benefit from a consultation from one of our experienced attorneys:
- Did the attack take place on public property or lawfully in a private place?
- Was the dog’s owner in violation of a leash law when it occurred?
- Was the attack unprovoked?
- Did the bite or attack cause any medical expenses and/or long-term medical issues?
Victims of dog attacks can recover compensation for lost income, pain and suffering, medical bills, and future medical treatment.
Contact an Experienced Florida Dog Bite Attorney Today
When you have a Jones Law Group attorney by your side, we can prosecute your claims and recover money for your injuries. We know how to deal with this kind of situation. And we’ll do whatever it takes to help you get fair compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.
 ROBERT McKINLEY, Appellant, v. BOB GUALTIERI, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Pinellas County, Florida, Appellee. 2nd District. Case No. 2D20-3156.