Sadly, every day about 1,000 people require emergency medical treatment in the U.S. as a result of dog bites. Dog owners are responsible for their dog’s behavior and must maintain control over the animal. If a dog bites or otherwise attacks an individual, the owner is liable for the conduct of the dog. The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite victims every year in the US. If you were bitten or attacked by a dog, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries.
According to Dogbite.org, in 2011, the following statistics apply:
31 fatal dog bites occurred in the U.S.
Pit bulls accounted for 71% of the attacks
Although pit bulls account for the great majority of attacks, pit bulls comprise only 5% of the U.S. dog population
In 2011, there were twice as many adult dog bite fatalities than child victims
In 2011, the primary owner of the pit bull was killed in 8 instances
39% of the fatal dog injuries involved more than one dog
Kentucky is a strict liability state which means that a dog owner is liable for a dog bite attack even if the dog has never bitten anyone. KRS 258.235(4) states:
Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.
Unlike other states, it is irrelevant in Kentucky whether the dog has bitten someone previously or whether the owner knew the dog had an aggressive personality. As a victim, all you need to prove is:
- The defendant owned the dog who attacked you
- The dog bit you while it was in a public place or lawfully on private property
- The dog attack took place in an area where the owner could reasonably anticipate a person being at any given time
- You were injured by a dog bite attack
That the dog was a substantial factor in causing your harm
As stated above, the dog owner may be liable for injuries caused by a dog if the owner can reasonably expect your presence where the dog may also be. For example, if a dog owner takes a dog for a walk in a crowded park, and the animal bites someone, the owner is liable since the owner can expect people like the injured party to be in the vicinity. If, on the other hand, the walk is in a secluded area of land, where other persons cannot reasonably be expected, and the owner comes upon someone whom the dog bites, then the dog owner may not be held liable. However, if the owner sees the person far in advance, and makes no effort to steer the dog clear, then the owner may be held liable.
Thus, when the statute applies and when the dog owner has reason to anticipate the dog will be near people like a dog attack victim, strict liability is the standard of liability.
For purposes of KRS 258.235(4), “‘owner,’ when applied to the proprietorship of a dog, includes every person having a right of property in the dog and every person who keeps or harbors the dog, or has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about premises owned or occupied by him.” For example, when you drop your dog off at a dog grooming salon, both the dog owner and the dog groomer qualify as an “owner” under the statute. In this situation, the dog owner has a proprietary interest in the dog, and the dog groomer was keeping or harboring it while it was being groomed. The statute makes no distinction between primary and secondary owners and would not protect the dog groomer, since by accepting the dog for grooming, the dog groomer assumed the risk of the dog biting someone. The same would apply to anyone who undertakes the care of a dog for another. As such, dog sitters, kennel owners, veterinarians, and anyone else who harbors a dog will be considered the dog’s owner for purposes of dog bite liability.
Kentucky statutes provide for criminal charges in many dog bite injury cases which largely depend on the prior behavior of the dog. However, you may also receive monetary settlements if you have been the victim of a dog attack which will cover your medical expenses and any related injuries.
Whenever there are criminal charges filed against a dog owner, this can help support filing a civil lawsuit. The owner’s negligent actions may warrant compensation for the victim.
AVAILABLE INSURANCE COVERAGE
When a dog has attacked you, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This means that the insurance company covering the home or property in which you was attacked may be obligated to pay for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other out of pocket expenses.
When a dog has attacked you at a business, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries by the business’s insurance policy. This means that the insurance company covering the business in which you was attacked may be obligated to pay for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other out of pocket expenses.
DEFENSES FOR DOG BITE LIABILITY
While Kentucky law places the burden of proof on the dog owner, the dog owner may be able to avoid liability through a number of affirmative defenses. The dog owner may attempt to prove that you were trespassing on their property or provoked the animal While dog owners typically do not have much of a defense, it is important to secure the assistance of a highly trained attorney who knows how to counter these defenses and ensure that you win your case.