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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 116200
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I live in Florida and was walking my dog on a leash on a sidewalk

Customer Question

I live in Florida and was walking my dog on a leash on a sidewalk that was not even next to a main road. Instead the sidewalk was next to a wide planting strip which separated the sidewalk from a cobblestone path sometimes used for parking.

My dog was in the planting strip with her head jutting out on the cobblestone path a little.

A big SUV came down the path at a fast speed (for a path) and the quickly drove right up next to the path to park. The big wheels hit my dog's head and dragged her in the cobblestone path.

The driver kept going and ran over her head in front of me.

I know the dog is property in Florida but is there any laws that could apply to this kind of situation. As I said, the dog was on a leash, in a wide planting strip (except head), and the driver was on a cobblestone path (not a main road) sometimes used for parking.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

You are correct in that dogs are considered property in FL and as such this is looked at as a property damage claim. As you were physically walking your dog and the vehicle could have just as easily hit you and came this close to doing so and because he took off after violating the law the first time by driving on the sidewalk, it is very likely you could pursue a claim against the driver for infliction of emotional distress, since his conduct was certainly outrageous to shock the conscience in that he went up onto the sidewalk area and could have just as easily hit you and he kept going (both violations of the law).

While infliction of emotional distress is not a given or a guarantee, this is a possibility in this case because of the way the incident occurred and his violations of the law.

I truly aim to please you as a customer, but please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please consider that I am answering the question or question that is posed in your posting based upon my reading of your post and sometimes misunderstandings can occur. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered.

Kindly remember the ONLY WAY experts receive any credit at all for spending time with customers is if you click on OK, GOOD or EXCELLENT SERVICE even though you have made a deposit or are a subscription customer. YOU MUST COMPLETE THE RATING FOR THE EXPERT TO RECEIVE ANY CREDIT, if not the site keeps your money on deposit.

Also remember, sometimes the law does not support what we want it to support, but that is not the fault of the person answering the question, so please be courteous.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I was in such shock when the dog's head was crushed in front of me that I could not talk. I only wanted to pick up the dog and take her home. I knew she was dead. He got out of the car and said he was sorry and asked what he could do. I told him to buy me another dog since he killed this one. He said that he would not buy me another dog but would try to go to get a blanket to cover up the dog he killed.


He just kept saying it was an accident as though that made it fine. He had no feelings for dogs. And asked me what I expected him to do. And when I'd tell him, he couldn't do it he said.


I live in Walton County Florida on Scenic Route 30A. This county has the worst system of roads, particularly on 30A. There is a county road, then a large patch of grass, then a sidewalk in some places (on which bicycles and pedestrians walk and it is amazing a bicyce hasn't hit anyone, particularly at night, since they ride with no lights, and then there is this cobblestone path in some sections next to the planting strip that is next to the sidewalk. This fellow had a main road to go on to park, not to be barrelling down a cobblestone strip.


I moved her from California and worked with Department of Transportation. I know classifications of roads and requirements. Florida, particularly Walton County, has made up their own. I have talked before with the County Supervisor who represents this area and told her that someone is going to get killed or maimed because of their system and classification of roads, which do not conform to DOT specifications. I had no idea it would be my dog that would be killed right in front of me and I would see it all.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I replied to your answer. But got cut off.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

Legally, as you said, dogs are considered property and he is strictly liable for at least paying you for the cost of your dog, no matter what he claims. Thus, at the very least you would recover those costs from him.

The infliction of emotional distress claim comes from his reckless driving against the law by driving off of the designated road and it is a bit more difficult of a claim for you to make, but it is one that in these circumstances has a good faith basis for the court to consider. Thus, it is one you can at least raise in good faith and if he comes to court acting like the jerk you claim he acted like at the time of the accident, it is likely the court will agree with you on this as well because he came so close to hitting you that his conduct of driving off of the designated road would be outrageous to shock the conscience of the reasonable person, which is the standard the courts use to find infliction of emotional distress.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Thanks for this reply.


I talked with the county transportation and roads department,


Apparently, this cobblestone path is a private path owned by Alys Beach. So I was told I had to take up the issue with the Alyx Beach Homeowners' Association.


Apparently, private property roads and paths don't have to post anything.


I came from California and worked with CalTRANS and knew the rules of the road. This place is a resort area with many upscale private developments.


I can go to the homeowners; meeting and tell them about what happened and ask them to do something. But I think the best thing to do is to stay off the sidewalks with a pet . . . or myself,


Or understand I have to resort to a lawsuit to the homeowners association if I have an injury.



Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

I am afraid that the liability here is going to be the driver of the vehicle and their insurer.

As far as the HOA this is a more tenuous and less certain situation. You would have to prove that the road and sidewalk is not only dangerous, but they have been put on prior notice that it is dangerous and failed to take any action to remedy the situation. If you can prove they have been given actual notice of the dangerous condition and they failed to remedy it then you can pursue the HOA.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello: It is too soon to rate you, I am not really satisfied with your answer. But that may be due more to how I phrased the question and also that I am not thinking clearly since I saw this accident. I have such complex emotions about it that I need counseling. I am going to talk to a therapist tomorrow. I think I am looking to the law for a solution (I graduated from law school and worked as an legal researcher for years), a solution for which the law has no satisfactory answer. I worked in California and just moved to Florida so didn't feel I had the presence of mind to look up Florida's liability laws. And slso Florida has many private roads or roads that the county has given over to private entities to manage. It adds another layer of complexity. The law here offers little succor for such a great tragedy to me. And I want to make sure that I rate you with a more clear mind.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.

I am sorry to hear you are not thinking clearly. I have told you that you have recourse here against the owner of the vehicle, but I am perplexed over what you are not satisfied with.

If you are a law school graduate and a legal researcher, you know that finding a solution for which the law has no satisfactory answer is an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation you are placing on anyone.

I apologize that the FL laws are unlike CA where they legislate even how many pebbles can be on a gravel road. The FL laws are very sparse compared to the CA laws I am afraid.

The issue of actual knowledge of a danger and failure to cure that danger is something that the courts require to be proven to hold the land owner liable, but you are not even thinking or mentioning anything about the fact you absolutely have a legal case against the driver of the vehicle who was indeed negligent and upon your proof of that negligence in court would be entitled to the money for damage to your property (dog) and also based on the driver's conduct could also prove because you were holding the leash in such close proximity to the dog the driver did indeed inflict the severe emotional distess needed to give you a claim of infliction of emotional distress.

Please do not take out on me or this service the fact the FL laws are not the same as CA and please understand you do have recourse here (although your responses sound for some reason like you think you have none and I do not know why).