A Home Depot customer was attacked and bitten in the face by another customer’s dog resulting in severe injuries. You can read the full news article about the incident by clicking the following link. In short, the dog owner and the dog’s trainer were in Home Depot and asked the victim to give the dog a treat as part of its training. The victim agreed and the dog, which was on a leash, quickly bit her face. After the attack, the dog owner and trainer fled the store with the animal. They are wanted by the Police for questioning.
The question most people want answered is who’s responsible for the injuries and other damages (out of pocket medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) suffered by the victim in this vicious attack. Well, the dog owner is clearly responsible for the acts of its dog and the injuries that resulted. In fact, pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 767.04, the dog owner is strictly liable for all injuries caused by its animal. Unfortunately, most animal owners do not maintain pet insurance for their animals and standard homeowner’s insurance policies in Florida usually contain blanket exclusions for animals unless an endorsement is specifically purchased. Renter’s policies on the other hand often contain broad coverage that extend to animals as part of its standard policy although every policy is different, and every insurance carrier has its own form so the issue of coverage must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the dog owner has no available insurance for his or her pet, the issue is whether they are collectable if a judgment is obtained in favor of the victim. Discovery and investigation into the financial wherewithal of the dog owner would have to be conducted and is something this firm does in evaluating dog bite cases.
Can Home Depot be liable for injuries caused by dogs on its premises? Generally, courts have found stores and other businesses not liable for injuries caused by animals on their premises unless the store had actual knowledge of the vicious nature of the dog and failed to protect its customer or had constructive knowledge as the circumstances were such the store should have known about the dangerous dog on its premises. Again, discovery and investigation into what the store knew and what its employees knew about the dog prior to the incident, if anything, is going to be key in evaluating Home Depot’s premises liability. This is why after a Home Depot accident with injury it is important to retain a skilled personal injury lawyer to assist you in evaluating your case.
In addition to the above, there may be other grounds to hold Home Depot liable for injuries caused by dogs on its premises. That is, if Home Depot acted unreasonably under the circumstances and in violation of its own internal policies, procedures, rules and guidelines when it comes to animals. The question here is does Home Depot allow dogs in its stores? Well, despite our research, we were unable to locate an official pet policy on Home Depot’s website. Various blogs and Internet articles pose the question and provide conflicting answers. Some sources indicate Home Depot only allow official service dogs in store, which means animals that are registered, trained, and approved by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some examples of service dogs are those that help people who are blind, deaf, in a wheelchair, prone to having seizures. It is our understanding emotional support dogs do not qualify unless they have been specifically trained in the Act’s recognized responsibilities.
On the other hand, other online sources suggest Home Depot permits any leashed dogs in the store regardless of whether it is an official service animal. The failure to have an official and cohesive policy is problematic and could be a basis of liability. It may also be the reason why store employees do not know how to act when animals are brought into the store. Home Depot’s failure to train, educate and supervise its employees when it comes to animals may be a further basis of liability and why employees simply permit all pets in the store making incidents like this one more likely and foreseeable.
There are several Home Depot stores near our Main Office in Boca Raton, Florida. We called each of the Home Depot stores to find out if they permitted dogs in the store. In sum, we were provided inconsistent information. Some stores permitted service dogs only the others indicated any pet was permitted without reference to whether it had to be leashed or not. However, do not rely on the information provided herein as an assurance of store policy and we advise you prior to bringing your animal to Home Depot to call the store yourself to find out if it is permitted. For ease of reference, we have included contact information for several local stores.
Home Depot – Boca Raton #0204
9820 Glades Rd Boca Raton, FL 33434 (561) 451-0240
Home Depot – West Delray #6325
15050 Jog Rd Delray Beach, FL 33446 (561) 498-1251
Home Depot – East Delray Beach #6315
1400 Waterford Place Delray Beach, FL 33444 (561) 272-5127
Home Depot – Boynton Beach #0224
1500 SW 8th St Boynton Beach, FL 33426 (561) 364-9600
Home Depot – Royal Palm #6379
220 South State Road 7 West Palm Beach, FL 33414 (561) 793-7048
If you have been hurt at a Home Depot, it is important for you to immediately report the incident to the store manager. Make sure you complete an incident report and take a picture of it before you return it to the store. If you do not take a picture of it, we will not be able to get it until after a lawsuit is filed. It is important for you to have copies of all documents you sign after an accident at Home Depot or elsewhere. It is also important to get the name and contact information for all witnesses, to take photographs of the injury causing condition or product, and to seek prompt medical care.
Be warned. Shortly after your accident is reported, an insurance adjuster or investigator with Sedgwick or Home Depot will contact immediately to obtain a written or recorded statement, release of your medical records, or to have you examined by one of their medical doctors. These are all things Sedgwick makes innocent victims feel like they have to do, which would not be permitted if an attorney was involved. They also try and deny your claim and then settle it for nominal amounts. Do not let Sedgwick or Home Depot take advantage of you. Protect yourself by getting an experienced Home Depot Accident Lawyer like David B. Datny at The Datny Law Firm. We represent Home Depot accident victims throughout the State of Florida. We are available 24/7 and provide FREE consultations at 561-221-7474.