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Allstate Ins. Co. v. Greenstein - 308 So. 2d 561 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1975)

Rule:

Under the statutory liability created by Fla. Stat. ch. 767.01, the owner of a dog is cast virtually in the role of an insurer, and he is strictly liable for damage done to persons by his dog. The defense of contributory negligence is not available in actions brought under the statute. However, the defense of assumption of the risk and proximate causation are valid defenses under the statute. 

Facts:

Appellee car operator filed a complaint against the appellants, husband, wife, and the couple's home insurer. He alleged that a Great Dane owned by the insureds, ran into the street and collided with his car, causing him to lose control and collide with a power pole. The court granted a directed verdict for car operator and awarded him damages. The trial court held that under Fla. Stat. ch. 767.01, the insureds were strictly liable for damages caused by their dog. In addition, the trial court necessarily concluded that the rate of speed of the car was not the sole proximate cause of the accident.

Issue:

Was the owner of the dog responsible to the damages caused to persons by his dog?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court affirmed. The court agreed that ch. 767.01 applied, and the evidence did not show that the car's speed was the sole proximate cause of the accident. Thus, there was no reversible error by the trial court. Under the statutory liability created by Section 767.01, the owner of a dog is cast virtually in the role of an insurer, and he is strictly liable for damage done to persons by his dog.

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