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Can Kentucky Landlords Be Liable for Dog Bites?

When you experience a dog bite in California, it can pose significant challenges to your well-being, finances, and relationships. What’s more, the emotional and psychological toll can be substantial, especially when such incidents occur in or around your home, possibly involving your landlord.

Legal support is a crucial aspect of dealing with these situations, and our team at Kaufman & Stigger PLLC is here to assist you. Our experienced dog bite lawyers in Kentucky have the knowledge and skills to help you through the claims process. Don’t waste any time in contacting us for a free consultation today.

Is My Landlord Liable for a Dog Bite in Kentucky?

When it comes to dog bites in Kentucky, the primary liability typically falls squarely on the dog owner, a legal concept known as “strict liability.” Under the Kentucky Revised Statutes, dog owners are held responsible for injuries and damages resulting from a dog bite. These damages can cover:

  • Physical injuries
  • Emotional distress
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring, infections, and nerve damage
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death in the event of a fatal incident

However, the question of whether your landlord bears any liability is also significant. While the default legal responsibility typically rests with the dog owner, there are situations where your landlord may share some of the legal burden. Here are key scenarios where your landlord could potentially be liable:

  • Foreseeability – If your landlord is aware that a tenant’s dog on their property has a history of aggressive behavior or has previously bitten someone, and they fail to take appropriate action, they may potentially share liability.

  • Negligent tenant selection – If your landlord did not conduct a reasonable background check on a tenant and knowingly allowed a tenant with a dangerous dog to reside on the property, they could be held accountable for resulting bites.

  • Common areas – In cases where a dog bite occurs in a common area of the property, such as a shared courtyard, your landlord might have some liability for maintaining safe common areas. This often involves complex legal considerations.

  • Lease agreement – The terms of the lease agreement can also play a role. If the lease explicitly prohibits aggressive or dangerous dogs and your landlord fails to enforce these terms, they might share some liability.

Basically, if your landlord’s actions or negligence played a role in the incident, they could be held partly responsible. If you’ve been bitten at a rental property and suspect that the landlord may be at fault, it’s essential to understand the necessary steps to take next.

Legal Process Following a Dog Bite in Kentucky

When you’re navigating a dog bite incident in Kentucky, it’s important to be aware of the legal options you have as a victim. While the process may have its unique aspects, a dog bite case falls within the realm of a personal injury claim. As such, the procedures involved in these cases are akin to those for other types of injury claims. Your primary legal options typically include:

  • Insurance claim – In most cases, you’ll submit your claim to the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance of the dog owner. Furnish comprehensive details about the incident, your injuries, and the associated damages.

  • Negotiations – If the insurance company extends a settlement offer, our team will diligently assess and negotiate for a fair settlement that encompasses all your damages.

  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit – When a settlement proves unattainable, the next step is to file a lawsuit against the dog owner to seek compensation for your injuries. Our team will initiate and represent you in the legal proceedings.

It’s important to remember that while the primary responsibility for covering your injuries typically lies with the dog owner, a landlord or property owner might also share some liability. If their negligence contributed to the dog bite incident on their premises, you may have the option to file an additional premises liability claim against them or the management company of the property.

Damages Available

As in other personal injury claims, the ultimate aim of the legal process is to help you recover damages from the liable parties. Common damages available in a dog bite claim encompass:

  • Medical expenses and ongoing care, including therapy or rehabilitation.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Lost income.
  • Property damage linked to the incident.
  • Punitive damages in cases of significant negligence by the owner or landlord.

The extent of these damages depends on the severity of your injuries. It’s vital to bear in mind that, similar to other personal injury claims in Kentucky, dog bite cases have a statute of limitations–a one-year deadline for filing a claim. Failing to meet this deadline could result in you being unable to file a claim for these much-needed damages.

What Evidence Will You Need After a Dog Bite?

Obviously, the circumstances of your dog bite–where and when it happened–is going to play a big part in your claim. This is especially true if it happens at your apartment complex or some other property you’re renting. Thus, in order to bolster your claim and bring your landlord in on potential liability, you’ll need to provide the following evidence:

  • Lease agreements – Review your lease agreement for any clauses related to pets, particularly dangerous or aggressive dogs. If the lease prohibits such animals, this can be valuable evidence to show that the landlord failed to enforce lease terms.

  • Communications – Any communication between you and the landlord regarding the dog, its behavior, or your concerns can serve as evidence. This includes emails, letters, or documented conversations.

  • Witness statements – If other tenants or neighbors were aware of the dog’s aggressive behavior and can attest to it, their statements can support your claim.

  • Property maintenance – If the rental property had inadequate fencing, gates, or other safety measures to prevent dog-related incidents, photograph and document these issues as evidence of the landlord’s negligence.

  • History of complaints – If there’s a history of complaints from tenants or neighbors about the dog’s behavior or the landlord’s inaction, gather this information as evidence.

  • Lack of background check – If the landlord failed to conduct a reasonable background check on the tenant who owned the dog and knowingly allowed a tenant with a dangerous dog to reside on the property, this can be a significant piece of evidence.

  • Animal control records – Obtain any records from local animal control agencies or authorities that may have been involved in addressing issues related to the dog on the property.

  • Photos and videos – Take photographs of any relevant conditions on the property, such as broken fences, or any injuries you sustained as a result of the dog bite. Document the date, time, and location of these photos.

Ultimately, the strength of your claim is going to rest on the evidence. That’s why collecting, preserving, and then presenting this evidence is so important. Our team of Kentucky dog bite lawyers can assist you in this regard, then use it to build a compelling case for you.

Help From Experienced Kentucky Dog Bite Lawyers

If you or a family member has suffered a dog bite incident at your Kentucky apartment or another rental property, Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC is here to provide assistance and streamline the process. We will lead you through the necessary steps for seeking damages from the dog’s owner or the landlord, developing a clear strategy and effective case. Contact us today to set up your free consultation.

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