Dogs are part of the household of families throughout Kentucky, but when that pet harms another person, it may be the negligence of the owner who is the real cause of the problem. Kentucky has enacted legislation to ensure that the people who created the situation in which the dog was able to harm another are held responsible, regardless of whether negligence actually is demonstrated.
Kentucky is a strict liability state, which means that the owner is liable for any damage caused by his dog to a person or another animal. Many times, the victims of dog attacks are children, and the harm caused is severe. Recently, there was another tragic dog attack that occurred in New Jersey. A 115-pound bullmastiff somehow got off the owner’s property and attacked two teenagers, apparently killing one of them, biting the other child in the arm, and later biting the owner who stabbed the dog to stop the attack, according to a Fox news story. Investigators are waiting for the autopsy result to rule that the dog attack was the cause of death.
According to a dog bite fact sheet put together by the Humane Society, there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites each year, of which an estimated 800,000 required medical attention. About two-thirds of dog bites happened in or right around the home to which the dog belonged and most victims knew the dog.
The circumstances under which dog bites happen prompted Kentucky to modify its joint and severable liability dog bite laws to a strict liability model. Kentucky Revised Statutes section 258.235 provides that:
- Any person may kill or seize a dog that has attacked another person without being responsible for any damages to the owner of the animal; and
- An owner whose dog has attacked and harmed a person, another animal, or property is liable for the damage that the dog caused.
What this law means is that an owner does not have to have any prior knowledge that the dog posed a danger to anyone before being held liable for damages. The fact that the dog has been a loving family pet for years will not alter the outcome of a legal action. The dog’s owner will have to pay for any medical expenses arising out of the dog bite, as well as lost wages and any other associated economic losses. There also may be compensation for pain and suffering awarded. Who is considered an owner is interpreted very broadly. A dog bite victim may strengthen a legal action by alleging that the owner was negligent, but this is not necessary to recover under a strict liability action.
Kentucky’s strict liability statute means that these owners must take responsibility for the damages, but state legislators have moved to address the extension of liability to landlords whose tenants have dogs that attacked someone. The Kentucky Senate just passed a bill that protects a landlord who lives on the property with rental units from financial responsibility in the event of a dog attack. The House will now take the bill under consideration. Although this is a move towards decreasing some of the potential liability, it does not impact the owner’s responsibility to ensure that a dog in not a threat.
Murphy & Associates, PLC Attorneys Get Results for Our Clients
Being attacked by a dog, whether or not you were familiar with the animal before the bite, is an extremely stressful event. Dog attacks can lead to very serious injuries, including permanent scarring and disfigurement. The experienced Kentucky Personal Injury Attorneys at Murphy & Associates, PLC will provide an honest evaluation of your case and what you can expect during litigation in an initial consultation. To schedule a meeting and get started, simply call us at (502) 443-1360 to make an appointment at your convenience.