A leisurely weekend visit to a pet store could probably not have gone any worse for one Florida family. While his mother visited with other customers, a 6-year-old boy attempted to play with their dog, a pit bull. Unexpectedly, the dog bit the boy in the face, causing an injury serious enough to require stitches.
As the boy's mother rushed to his attention, the dog's owners quickly left the store. In many dog bite cases, injury victims have the ability to pursue compensation from the pet's owners for failing to properly restrain their animal. However, this may not be a possibility if the dog and its owners are never located.
However, unlike a lot of dog bite injuries, this incident happened in a store, rather than on a person's private property. This may have implications in terms of premises liability law. So, the boy's mother may be asking: What role should the store play in preventing accidents such as this?
Many pet stores allow customers to bring in their dogs on leashes. Since pit bulls are notorious for being aggressive -- even when unprovoked -- it may have been wise for the store to have enforced policies addressing this breed. If the store failed to act with enough care or caution to help prevent this bite injury, they could be held liable in civil court.
Right now, the injured boy and his family are likely most focused on healing. However, they may consider taking a look at their legal options. This may be particularly important if the bite injuries cause permanent damage or scarring to the boy's face, affecting him for many years to come.
Source: Gainesville Times, "Boy recovering from dog bite to face," Sharon Duten, March 20, 2013
Sorting through the details of an accident involving premises liability can be a daunting process. To learn more about this, please see our Tampa premises liability page.