We love dogs, and dog parks can be great places for canines and humans to exercise and socialize. Attacks have been known to occur at these places though, and they’re going to continue to occur in the future. Humans are victims of some of the attacks, especially if they’re trying to break up an attack by one dog on another dog.
Kentucky is a strict liability dog bite state. What that means is that a dog’s owner is liable, regardless of whether the dog has ever shown aggressive behavior in the past.
Our firm’s lawyers recently represented a dog bite client in a case in which the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in our client’s favor in interpreting KRS 258.235(4) and finding a dog owner is strictly liable for damages caused by their dog.
If you were attacked by a dog in Louisville or anywhere in Kentucky or Indiana, contact us today for a free consultation.
Why Do Dogs Attack?
A dog in a dog park might attack for any number of reasons. The dog might be tired and stressed, or it might want to protect a ball, toy or their human. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of pack dominance. The general rule is that operators of dog parks are not liable for any attacks or bites.
Louisville Dog Parks:
Louisville has at least eight dog parks that are scattered across the city, such as Vettiner Dog Run, Waverly Dog Run and Old Louisville Dog Run. Those are all operated by the Louisville Dog Run Association (LDRA). The LDRA is a not-for-profit organization, and it focuses on the operation of off-leash dog parks in and around town. It has its own set of rules, the first of which is that entry into any LDRA dog park is at the risk of dog owners and handlers. Those owners and handlers are responsible and liable for any damage to people, property or other animals that are caused by their dogs. If one dog injures another dog, the owner is required to assist in any way needed and provide their contact information. Some owners fail to do that though.
Kentucky Dog Bite Law:
Notwithstanding the LDRA assumption of risk rule, pursuant to Kentucky Statute 258.235(4), when a dog attacks a human, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a strict liability dog bite state. What that means is that a dog’s owner is liable, regardless of whether the dog has ever shown aggressive behavior in the past. When that dog attacks another dog, its owner can also be held liable under the same statute.
Regardless of whether fees or memberships are paid by users, most dog parks are on public property. On that basis, it’s not unusual for a user of a dog park to have a reasonable expectation of safety from dog attacks. That also translates into Kentucky’s strict liability being applicable to dog parks. If an owner knows that his or her dog has attacked people or other dogs in the past, that owner shouldn’t be bringing their dog to a dog park. Doing so would go beyond mere negligence and into the realm of recklessness. The affirmative defense of assumption of risk won’t apply. The victim typically won’t assume the risk of reckless behavior, and Kentucky is a strict liability state anyway.
Determining whether there is insurance coverage is a critical part of recovering damages in any personal injury case. It can be particularly difficult in a dog attack case if the dog’s owner doesn’t have homeowners or renters insurance. Most dog owners cooperate with a victim’s attorney on the issue of providing insurance information. If a dog owner doesn’t want to cooperate with the victim’s attorney, and a lawsuit is filed, a judge might need to compel the production of any proof of insurance.
Aside from other dogs, children between the ages of four and nine are the most likely people to be injured in dog attacks. They don’t always really know how to behave around new dogs, and given their height, they’re more likely to be bitten around the neck and the face. Those types of injuries are likely to require medical attention, hospitalizations and surgeries.
Breaking Up a Fight:
Dog fights are short, but in less than 30 seconds of fighting, injuries can be severe. Surgeries might be required, and veterinary bills could be in the thousands. If you’re going to intervene, you have to watch out for your own personal safety. Don’t try and pull a dog away from its collar, your hand or arm is likely to end up in the jaws of one of the dogs. Some experts state that you’re far better off by trying to break up a dog fight from behind. The “wheelbarrow” might be the safest method.
The Statute of Limitations:
A statute of limitations prescribes a strict period of time that an individual must file a personal injury lawsuit in. In Kentucky, that lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of a dog attack. If the victim is a minor, that statute of limitations begins to run on the minor’s 18th birthday. A failure to file a personal injury case before the expiration date of the statute of limitations could be a strong defense that is likely to bar a victim from any type of legal relief.
Other Defenses in Kentucky Dog Bite Cases:
The fact that strict dog bite liability exists in Kentucky doesn’t mean that defenses don’t exist. Assumption of risk has already been addressed. Another defense in a dog park context is that the attacking dog was provoked to defend itself from the alleged victim.
Contact a Louisville Dog Bite Lawyer.
Dog parks in Louisville don’t require leashes or muzzles. Always be aware of the fact that you or your dog could be attacked. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to be able to receive any type of compensation for your injuries and damages from the dog park itself. Dogs don’t carry liability insurance. Many of their owners don’t carry it either. You’ll want to speak with a Louisville Dog Bite Lawyer before filing any claim or lawsuit. A consultation with our dog bite lawyer is free, and you’ll get valuable information on whether to proceed. Make that call as soon as possible after being attacked at any Louisville dog park.