Each year, thousands of Americans are bitten by animals, often dogs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in this country, and nearly 1 in 5 of those bites becomes infected. If you are bitten or in any way harmed by another person's dog, that person may be held liable for your injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one have been injured by someone else's dog, how do you know if you have a case? In Kentucky, there are several different laws that govern dog bite cases. Any case involving liability can be complicated. If you are unsure about your rights, it's always best to consult with a qualified Kentucky personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
Kentucky's Dog Bite Law
Kentucky regulates dog bites through its strict liability law that you can find in Section 258.235(4) of the state statutes. "Strict liability" means that a pet's owner is liable if that animal causes injury, even if the dog never had aggressive tendencies in the past and even if the owner took every reasonable precaution to control their animal and prevent the event from occurring. In other words, the injured party does not have to prove negligence to collect damages in a Kentucky dog bite case.
The Kentucky statute specifies that the dog's owner is liable for damages that their dog causes to any person, property, or livestock. A dog owner's liability for injuries is not limited to dog bites under this statute. Specifically, it applies to both injuries related to dog bites and non-bite-related injuries. For example, if someone's dog jumped on you and caused you to fall and break a bone, this isn't a dog bite. It is, however, an injury caused by a dog that falls under the same statute so you could make a claim for damages.
Deadline for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
When deciding whether you have a case for a dog bite in Kentucky, timing matters. There is a state law referred to as the statute of limitations that will bar a lawsuit once a certain time has passed. In Kentucky, you have just one year to file a civil suit in court. The date that the time begins to run will vary, but it is usually from the date of injury. If, however, you were unaware that an injury occurred, the time would start from the date that you became aware of the injury.
With most dog bite cases, the date of the incident marks the time when the clock will begin running. This is a vital consideration because if you are the victim of a dog bite and file a personal injury lawsuit in Kentucky after that one-year period has expired, the court will reject your case, and you will be unable to recover your losses.
Possible Defenses Against Your Claim
In some states that use strict liability laws for dog bite cases, a dog owner can claim certain defenses when faced with a lawsuit for a dog bite. These might include that victim was trespassing or that they provoked the animal. These are not valid defenses in Kentucky.
Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state, however, and this rule would apply to dog bite cases. Under this rule, a dog bite victim's damages could be reduced by the percentage equal to their degree of fault in the incident. For example, if your case goes to trial and it was determined that you provoked the dog, you would be assigned a degree of fault. If your damages are $10,000 and the jury decides that you were 40 percent at fault, you would only be able to collect $6,000.
Consult with a Louisville Dog Bite Lawyer About Your Case
Dog bite injuries can be quite serious, resulting in lacerations, broken bones, severe contusions, and dangerous infections. No one plans to be bitten by a dog, but these events and injuries could leave you facing expensive medical bills, lost wages, permanent impairment, and pain and suffering.
The Kentucky dog bite attorneys at the Slechter Law Firm will use their expertise to advocate for your rights. Our attorneys understand the particulars of this state's dog bite laws and will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your losses. Contact our Louisville office now at (502) 384-7400 or online to schedule a free consultation.