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Are Police in Kentucky Liable for Dog Bites?

Suffering a dog bite can lead to significant challenges, affecting both your health and daily life. While Kentucky follows “strict liability” laws in these scenarios there are exceptions to this rule. In some of these scenarios, the police and their canine partners may be involved. The question, then, is are the police responsible for your injuries?

Regardless of the situation, a dog bite often requires assistance. That’s where our team can be of service.

At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, our Kentucky dog bite lawyers will explain your options and guide you through the claims process. If you’ve been bitten by a dog and want to know more about what you’re able to do legally, contact us for a free consultation.

Police Dogs and Liability in Kentucky Dog Bite Cases

Kentucky has clear legal rules concerning dog bites and the associated legal accountability. The state follows a “strict liability” framework, which means:

  • The dog owner is held responsible for the injury, even in cases where the incident was not intentional.

What this means, practically speaking, is that the owner of the dog that bites you is responsible for covering your injuries and damages. However, if the dog in question is a police dog, it changes things a bit.

Generally, police dogs operate under “qualified immunity”. This means that if you’re bitten by a police dog in Kentucky during the course of an investigation or in response to a crime, the owner–which would be the police department–is not liable for covering your injuries. However, if the police dog bites you outside of these conditions, the police department would be responsible. This could include scenarios like:

  • Excessive force – If a police dog is used in a manner that constitutes excessive force or violates your constitutional rights, the police and their department could be held liable for any resulting injuries.

  • Not controlling the dog – If the police fail to properly control their dog, allowing it to attack someone without a valid reason, they could be liable for the injuries caused.

  • Inadequate training – If it can be demonstrated that the police dog lacked adequate training or was not properly trained to respond to commands, leading to an attack, the police may be held responsible.

  • Unlawful search – If a dog is used in an unlawful search and seizure operation that results in a dog bite, it may lead to liability for the police.

Obviously, this can be a tricky situation. Thus, it’s important to work with our experienced dog bite lawyers to help you through it.

What Should You Do After Being Bitten By a Police Dog in Kentucky?

Although it’s very unique circumstances, being bitten by a police dog in Kentucky should be responded to in the same way as any other dog bite. So, here’s what you need to do in the immediate aftermath of the incident:

  • Seek immediate medical attention to check for injuries and potential infections like rabies or tetanus.
  • Document the bite wound and incident details, including the location and whether the dog was restrained.
  • Follow your doctor’s wound-cleaning instructions to prevent infections.
  • Report the incident to local animal control officers for documentation.
  • Identify any witnesses to the incident.

However, because this scenario is so unique, evidence is going to be extremely important to your claim. As such, you need to make sure you have as much evidence as possible. Typically, this can include:

  • Medical records – Your medical records will show the extent of your injuries. This evidence is crucial in establishing the seriousness of the dog bite.

  • Photographs and videos – If possible, take photographs or videos of your injuries, the scene of the incident, and the police dog involved. This will show the impact of the incident.

  • Witness statements – If there were witnesses to the dog bite incident, their statements can serve as valuable evidence. Hopefully, they will provide an unbiased account of what happened.

  • Police reports – Request a copy of the police report related to the incident. It may include details about the dog’s behavior, the circumstances leading to the bite, and any actions taken by the police officers.

  • Body camera footage – Many police officers in Kentucky now wear body cameras, which might have recorded the incident. If available, this footage can be strong evidence.

  • Dog’s history – Information about the police dog’s training, behavior, and history may be relevant. If the dog has a record of aggressive behavior, it can be important evidence.

Filing a Claim After Being Bitten By a Kentucky Police Dog

Following a police dog bite incident, there are specific steps to follow when pursuing your legal options. To sue a police department for a dog bite in Kentucky, you typically need to follow these steps:

  • Notice of Claim – The first step is to file a Notice of Claim with the police department or the relevant government entity within a specified timeframe–usually 60 days. This notice lets them know of your intent to file a lawsuit.

  • Lawsuit – If the police department does not respond or denies your claim, our team can help you file a lawsuit in civil court.

Damages

While any dog bite has the potential for serious injuries, a police dog–usually a german shepherd or similar breed–is usually larger and more powerful. Not only that, but they are supposed to be specially trained. All of this adds up to a bite that can lead to extensive injuries and other damages.

Depending on the severity of the bite and the surrounding circumstances, the purpose of a lawsuit is to recover available “damages”:

  • Medical expenses – This category covers the costs of medical treatment required due to the dog bite, including hospital bills, surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.

  • Lost income – If the injuries from the police dog bite prevent you from working, you can seek compensation for the income you’ve lost during your recovery period.

  • Pain and suffering – Dog bites can result in physical and emotional trauma. Compensation in this category acknowledges the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you experience as a result of the incident.

  • Property damage – In some cases, a police dog bite incident may lead to damage to your personal property, and you may be eligible for reimbursement for these losses.

  • Scarring and disfigurement – If the dog bite results in permanent scarring or disfigurement, you can seek compensation for the physical changes and emotional distress associated with these injuries.

  • Punitive damages – In exceptional cases where the police department’s conduct is found to be grossly negligent or reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the department. These damages are meant to serve as a deterrent against such behavior.

Facing a police department–or any other government agency–in the legal process can be extremely challenging. However, our team of Kentucky dog bite lawyers won’t back down. We’ll work tirelessly to hold the police accountable for their actions.

Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in Kentucky

You don’t have to face the consequences of a police dog bite injury by yourself. At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, our team of skilled dog bite lawyers in Kentucky is here to assist you during this difficult period. Regardless of the extent of your injuries, we’re dedicated to ensuring you receive the necessary financial assistance from the police department and local government that didn’t take their responsibility seriously.

Don’t hesitate–contact us today for a free consultation to get started.

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