As per the American Pets Products Association, about 57 million dogs are part of American families. Dogs can be unpredictable and bite though, and some can inflict incredible damage when they attack. Bite injuries can vary widely in severity, from puncture wounds to crushed muscles, bones, and nerves. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 66% of all dog bite victims are children. They’re particularly vulnerable to dog bites injuries given their height and sensitive skin. Fortunately, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has laws that operate in a dog bite victim’s favor that place liability squarely on a dog owner’s shoulders.
Kentucky’s Dog Bite Statute
The Blue Grass State has its own dog bites statute that’s found at KRS 258.235(4). It’s a strict liability statute that holds a dog’s owner liable for injuries and damages regardless of whether his or her dog has bitten anybody in the past. It states as follows: “Any owner whose dog is found to cause damage to a person, livestock or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” The word “owner” is central to who might be strictly liable for a dog bite in Kentucky. KRS 258.095(5) defines a dog’s owner as anybody who has a right of property in a dog and anybody else who:
- Keeps or harbors the dog
- Has the dog in his or her care
- Permits the dog to be on or about premises
- Permits the dog to remain on or about the premises leased and occupied by him or her
Injuries Other Than From Bites
The Commonwealth’s dog bites statute doesn’t just contemplate bites either. Attacks other than bites fall under its purview. Even the behavior of a dog that jumps up and knocks a victim down and causes injury to the victim falls under Kentucky’s strict liability dog bite law.
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Common Dog Bite Injuries
If a dog bites you anywhere in Kentucky, you need not prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in failing to control his or her dog. With its strict liability rule, a dog’s owner is liable for any injuries. Regardless of the fact that the dog never bit anybody in the past or exhibited any aggressive behavior. Here are some common dog bite injuries that victims suffer in Kentucky dog attacks:
- Bone fractures, especially to the arms and hands.
- Facial scarring and eye injuries.
- Traumatically amputated fingers.
- Head, facial, and neck injuries and scarring.
- Ripped and damaged nerves.
What to Do After a Dog Attacks
Time is the essence in any case involving injuries suffered in a dog attack. If the victim was you or a family member, here’s how you should proceed:
Obtain Immediate Medical Attention
Any dog bite is going to present a significant risk of infection. At a very minimum, seek care and treatment at an urgent care center. Depending on the severity of the attack, an emergency room might be a better choice.
Identify the Dog
Track down the dog that bit you or your family member, and identify the owner. It’s that owner who is responsible for compensating you for the injuries or damages.
Report the Attack
You must report the attack to local animal control authorities. Include any information that you might have about the dog or its owner. Fully cooperate with any investigation.
Preserve the Evidence
Take periodic photos of your injuries as treatment begins and the healing process starts. Save torn or bloody clothing. Don’t wash it. You might even want to take photos of the dog itself and where the attack occurred. Be sure to jot down the contact information for any witnesses.
Don’t speak with the Opposing Insurance Company
The insurer of the owner of the dog that attacks you or your family member is only interested in devaluing or even denying your claim for damages. They can use seemingly innocent information against you if the opportunity arises. Contact us at Kaufman & Stigger, PLC, and request a free confidential case evaluation and review instead. You’ll be protecting your rights by doing so.
Damages in Dog Bite Cases
Serious disfigurement and scarring can result from any dog attack. After an attack, a claimant is going to demand compensation for the injuries and damages that were suffered, especially if reconstructive or cosmetic scar revision surgery is warranted. Nonetheless, permanent disfigurement and scarring can occur. On that basis, damages that can be sought in a Kentucky dog bite case can include the following:
- Payment of past and future medical bills.
- Lost earnings, if applicable and any earnings lost in the future.
- Any permanent disability or disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional anxiety.
- Diminished enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages under certain circumstances.
The Statute of Limitations
Every state has a specific period of time within which a personal injury lawsuit must be filed for purposes of seeking compensation for personal injuries and damages. In Kentucky, that period is a mere one year from the date of an accident. If a dog bites victim fails to bring an appropriate lawsuit within that one year, he or she will likely be forever barred from seeking compensation in the future. One exception to this rule is if a minor is the victim of the attack. Then, the statute of limitations extends to one year beyond his or her 18th birthday.
Regardless of Kentucky’s law of strict liability in the context of dog attacks, a victim’s award might decrease by any percentage of fault attributable to him or her under the law of comparative fault. For example, if a jury determined that a claimant was 20% at fault for an attack, his or her award of $100,000 would decrease to $80,000. As Kentucky is a pure comparative state, reductions can go far below that level, even down to 99%.
After sustaining a dog bite injury, obtain medical care and treatment right away. Then, contact us here at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC right away, and we’ll arrange for a free and confidential consultation and case review. You can tell us about the attack and how it has affected you. Then, we’ll advise you of your full range of legal options. No up-front legal fees are even due. As we take these types of cases on a contingency fee basis, we don’t get paid any legal fees at all unless we obtain a settlement or award for you. It’s our objective to maximize that settlement or award in your dog bite case.
Contact A Kentucky Dog Bite Lawyer
It is vital that you act quickly and contact a dog bite injury lawyer as soon as possible. Do not wait another minute, call us right now at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC at (502) 458-5555 to discuss your case and get the help you deserve.
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