In Kentucky, if your dog hurts someone or damages property, you’re legally responsible. This falls under civil law, where injury claims are handled. For serious dog bites leading to severe harm or death, criminal charges like manslaughter may apply. If the owner knew the dog was aggressive and did nothing, criminal negligence charges could be brought.
Most dog bite cases, however, are dealt with in civil court, allowing victims to seek financial support from the owner of the dog. But like any other claim, the outcome depends on a variety of different factors. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, our Kentucky dog bite lawyers at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC can guide you through the process and advise on your next steps. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Criminal and Civil Law on Dog Bites in Kentucky
Because they are often so severe in terms of the harm they cause, dog bites in Kentucky are covered by both criminal and civil law. Under KRS 258.235, a dog bite in Kentucky:
- Makes the owner civilly liable for any injuries and other damages caused
While this is primarily motivated by the financial harm caused to the victim, in certain cases, the owner could also be criminally punished when their dog bites someone. Generally, this happens when:
- Aggravated circumstances – If the dog attack is particularly severe, leading to significant injuries or even the death of the victim, criminal charges like assault or manslaughter may be considered.
- Knowledge of aggression – Criminal responsibility could also arise if the owner was aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies before the incident but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm. This could result in charges of criminal negligence.
Currently, criminal charges during a dog bite, at minimum will result in:
- A fine of up to $100
- Up to 60 days in jail
Overall, Kentucky law is going to punish a dog owner in some way when their dog bites someone. Now, just how severe this punishment is will depend on the circumstances of the bite incident. So, as a victim, it’s important to know what you need to do to bolster a potential civil claim.
Actions To Take After a Dog Bite in Kentucky
The aftermath of a dog bite incident is extremely important, not the least of which because a bite is often very serious in terms of injuries. Aside from the initial bite wound, these incidents frequently result in broken bones, cuts, and if not treated properly, severe infections. Then, there’s the potential legal options you have. All of this should factor into your response, so make sure to:
- Prioritize safety – Move away from the dog to a safe distance to prevent further bites or attacks.
- Seek medical attention – Even seemingly minor bites should be treated promptly. Thoroughly cleanse the wound and seek medical care to prevent infections and complications.
- Identify the dog and owner – If possible, try to identify the dog and its owner. This information is essential for reporting the incident and taking potential legal steps. While it may be challenging if the dog is unleashed, local authorities or witnesses can assist in obtaining this information.
- Exchange contact details – If you can identify the dog owner, exchange contact details. This information may be valuable for potential legal or medical requirements.
- Document the event – Collect evidence of the injury, noting the bite location and any identifiable aspects of the dog and owner. This documentation can be valuable if you choose to pursue legal action.
- Report the incident – Contact local animal control or law enforcement to report the dog bite. Provide as much information as possible about the incident.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
If the bite is serious, causing significant harm, you’re going to need a lot of medical help. On top of any criminal charges, the owner will be responsible for covering these injuries and damages. However, in order to get the support you deserve, you’re going to need to file a claim. Even though you’re not required to have a lawyer in a civil claim, having our team on your side can help in a variety of ways:
- Legal assistance – We have extensive knowledge of the laws governing dog bites in Kentucky, ensuring that you receive effective legal guidance tailored to your situation.
- Case assessment – We’ll thoroughly examine the details of your case to gauge its strength and potential for a successful resolution.
- Skilled negotiation – Our legal team consists of adept negotiators who can strive to secure a fair settlement for your dog bite injuries, aiming to resolve matters without resorting to a court battle.
- Representing you in court – Should the need arise, we are prepared to provide strong representation in court, fighting for your rights and the compensation you rightfully deserve.
- Getting evidence – We will diligently gather and present compelling evidence to bolster your case, including medical records, witness statements, and other pertinent information.
- Dealing with insurers – Our team is well-equipped to handle negotiations with insurance companies, ensuring that your best interests are safeguarded throughout the process.
- Maximizing your results – Committed to maximizing your compensation, we aim to cover various expenses such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
- Peace of mind – Our ultimate goal is to provide you with peace of mind during this challenging time, assuring you that your legal matters are in capable hands.
Being injured in a dog bite can be very stressful and traumatic, so also having to deal with the responsibilities of an injury claim on top of everything else can quickly become overwhelming. Still, in order to fully recover, you’ll need to file a claim. So, it’s important to know what your options are.
Legal Options After Being Bitten By a Dog in Kentucky
If you’ve suffered a dog bite in Kentucky, you have legal options to pursue compensation and assistance for your injuries. Typically, this occurs through the owner’s insurance company. If it reaches a judge and jury, this will take place in civil court. Any criminal penalties against the owner will be considered a separate matter in criminal court, but the evidence and incident will be linked.
To get the available civil damages, you generally have two paths: filing an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit. In a typical dog bite case, you can seek compensation for various elements, including things like your:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life or companionship
- Wrongful death expenses, if the injuries were fatal
Also, punitive damages in cases of owner recklessness could be awarded. These damages, although rare, are awarded on top of any civil and criminal penalties.
In certain situations, if a third party, such as a landlord, was aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior but took no action, they might also be liable for your injuries.
If, by chance, the dog owner lacks insurance, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company to cover some of your damages.
Even though liability is clear in a dog bite case, dealing with insurance companies can be tricky. That’s why it’s crucial to work with our experienced team at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC. Our staff is adept at handling such cases, including negotiations with insurance companies, ensuring you receive the appropriate financial support.
Reliable Legal Assistance for Dog Bite Victims in Kentucky
Being bitten by a dog is always unfortunate, no matter what the circumstances are. While dog owners in Kentucky are liable for civil damages, more serious incidents can also result in criminal punishments. Regardless of the circumstances, our experienced Kentucky dog bite lawyers at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC can help you through this challenging time.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Kentucky, contact us for a free consultation.