Kentucky Dog Bite Injuries

Dogs are deeply integrated into American life. Most of the millions of dogs that live in our country never cause a problem; a small percentage end up biting someone. Children, who are attracted to animals and lack the awareness to approach them cautiously, are often victims.

Serious bites can cause extensive injuries requiring major surgery. In the most extreme cases, victims can be killed. In all cases, even minor ones, the experience is terrifying.

Bites actually tend to consist of a combination of puncture, ripping action, and crushing action that damages the integrity of the crushed tissues.

Psychological Effects of Dog Attacks

It’s not unusual for dog bites, especially if they produce serious and/or disfiguring injuries, to have long-lasting psychological effects. These may range from the relatively minor and narrow, such a lifelong fear of dogs, to major problems that significantly diminish the quality of life, such generalized anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, etc.

Kentucky Dog Bite Law

Kentucky has two separate statutes that make a person liable for injuries inflicted by a bite from a dog that person owns:

  • One simply says that any dog owner is responsible for the damage caused by the dog to “a person, livestock, or other property”
  • Another says that any owner of a dog (or cat or ferret) is liable for all damages resulting from the bite of the dog (or the cat or the ferret)

Under the first, the injuries do not have to have been caused by a bite but must have been caused by a dog. Under the second, injuries must have been caused by a bite, and the bite may have been inflicted by any animal being kept domestically. 

Strict Liability Rule

Unlike some other states which have more lenient rules, Kentucky’s law specifically imposes “strict liability” on the owner of any dog (or other domestic animals) that causes injury. That means the owner is liable regardless of whether he had any reason to know that the dog was likely to behave in the way that caused injury, and regardless of whether the owner acted in any way “negligent” in controlling the dog.

Who is an Owner?

Kentucky passed a new law this year that has clarified the definition of a dog’s owner who is liable for injuries caused by the dog. The new statute defines a dog owner as every person who:

  • Has a property rights in the dog
  • “Keeps” the dog
  • “Harbors” the dog
  • Has the dog in his care
  • Allows the dog to remain on or about premises that are either owned, leased, or occupied by him

The latter definition is intended to exclude landlords who own the property but don’t live there.

 

Dog Bite Damages

As in all personal injury cases, the victim is entitled to recover for all damages that flowed from the dog bite. Typically, this includes current and future medical expenses, as well as past and future lost income. Amounts intended to compensate for the victim’s pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life may also be recovered.

Under some circumstances, punitive damages may be assessed against a defendant who has demonstrated particularly culpable behavior, such as commanding the dog to attack. Punitive damages might also come into play in the case of bites from a dog that has been formally declared to be dangerous. Kentucky has very strict requirements for confining dogs that been declared to be dangerous. An owner of a dangerous dog which manages to bite someone because the owner failed to comply with those strict confinement rules would be a good candidate for punitive damages.

Get Legal Help for a Kentucky Dog Bite Injury

Most dog bite cases end up involving the dog owner’s homeowner’s liability insurance carrier, and the array of defense attorneys that insurance companies command. You need lawyers who are willing and able to stand up to the pressure and tactics that these companies employ to avoid paying large settlements.

At Lowder & McGill in Bowling Green, we are used to these insurer tactics. We are persistent, aggressive, and ready to dedicate as many hours as it takes to get the best result for our clients. Whatever the circumstances surrounding the dog bite case that involves you, and whether you seek damages for an injured victim or for a victim who had died, we can help.

Call Lowder & McGill, PLLC today for a free consultation. There is no fee unless we succeed in obtaining a recovery for you— through a fair settlement when possible, or through a trial and court judgment when necessary.