Elizabethtown, KY Dog Bite Lawyer
The combination of dogs making popular pets and the handful of irresponsible owners who fail to train their dogs (or even intentionally turn their animals aggressive) means that dogs bites, unfortunately, are not uncommon. In Kentucky, several laws dictate what happens in the case of a dog bite, whether criminal charges are applicable, and what kind of compensation you can receive.
Types of Injuries Sustained from Dog Bites
Dog bites can result in a variety of injuries — some can even be fatal. Injuries range from minor abrasions to severe injuries like disfigurement, nerve damage, and broken bones. Other types of injuries caused by dog bites include lacerations, puncture wounds, scarring, facial injuries, infections, and head injuries. Furthermore, you may experience psychological damage after a dog attack.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most of the time, the dog owner’s insurance company will cover the victim’s claim and there is no need for a lawsuit. Often, this is worthwhile for you as the victim, as it means you only need to pay a few hundred dollars to receive copies of your medical records, bills, and other reports. Plus, you’ll receive compensation from the dog owner soon after the attack.
However, in some cases, it may be necessary to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. This involves filing a complaint seeking damages through the civil courts. You’ll need to name at least one person who you want to hold legally liable for your damages. If you successfully establish liability, you’ll be able to seek compensation for your personal injury damages.
Since Kentucky is a strict liability state (KRS Chapter 285) in the case of dog bites, the owner of the dog is automatically liable if the dog causes someone harm. This applies even if the dog has never exhibited aggressive behavior before and if the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the dog from biting. As the victim, there is no need for you to present evidence of the dog owner’s negligence to receive compensation for a dog bite.
In other states, victims of dog bites may not be able to claim any compensation if they were trespassing or they provoked the dog in any way. Kentucky is different in that its strict liability law does not have any of these exceptions. Instead, Kentucky uses what is called the principle of pure comparative negligence. This means the dog owner pays a share of the damages according to the percentage of fault attributed to the victim.
Examples of Liability
For instance, if you provoked the dog and then the dog attacked, the jury may decide you were 60 percent at fault, in which case the dog owner would be responsible for just 40 percent of the damages. As another example, you may have been trespassing and the dog may have attacked you as a result. Again, the jury would decide on the percentage you were responsible and the damages owed by the dog owner would be reduced by this amount. Other ways you may be found partially at fault include if you left open a gate that allowed the dog to escape or if you opened the dog’s enclosure.
Strict liability also means that only the dog owner is liable in the case of a dog bite — not the property owner or landlord, if this is a different person from the owner. In other words, you will only be able to recover damages from the dog owner and no one else.
Types of Damages
After a dog bite, in addition to the cost of medical bills related to the injury, you can claim for any lost income and lost earning capacity as a result of being unable to work due to your injuries. You can also seek compensation for pain and emotional trauma from the dog bite and for any property damage, including to livestock. If the dog owner’s behavior is found to be particularly egregious, you may also receive punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in Kentucky means you have one year to file a civil lawsuit after suffering a dog bite. Normally, this means you have one year from the date you were bitten. However, if your injuries were not apparent until some time after, the clock would start from the date you became aware of your injuries. The latter is rare, though, since most often dog bite injuries are immediately obvious.
Since the statute of limitations for dog bites in Kentucky is quite short, you will need to act fast after the incident. If you miss the one-year deadline, you will be unable to ever seek compensation.
Criminal Charges After a Dog Bite
After a dog bite, either the police or animal control (and sometimes both) will contact the dog owner. If the dog caused your injuries while off the owner’s premises or after leaving its enclosure, the owner may face a fine ranging from $50 to $200, plus jail time of between 10 and 60 days. This is for a first offense — if the dog attacks again, penalties are more severe.
The authorities will also determine whether the dog is dangerous. Depending on the circumstances of the attack and whether the dog has any previous history of aggression, the authorities may remove the dog temporarily or permanently from its owner.
If the dog is allowed to stay with its owner, it may need to wear a muzzle or stay within an enclosure of specific dimensions. If the owner fails to comply with these requirements and allows a dog that has been deemed vicious to run at large, animal control or a police officer may immediately destroy the dog.
Contact a Lawyer Today
No matter the circumstances of your attack, you need a lawyer who is experienced in Kentucky dog bite law to represent you. This will ensure you receive the maximum compensation. If you need an Elizabethtown Kentucky dog bite lawyer, or an attorney for a dog bite anywhere in Kentucky, contact The Fleck Firm today.