Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Dog Bite?
There’s no way to fully protect yourself or your family from every potential danger. After all, accidents happen to everyone, and we do our best to recover from them quickly. But some accidents and unforeseen dangers are much more serious and can leave you with major injuries. Specifically, if you or someone you love has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should speak with a personal injury attorney immediately. Injuries like this are often not the fault of the victim and an experienced lawyer can help you understand the process to pursue possible compensation for a dog bite.
If you’re in the Louisville, Kentucky area or anywhere in the state including Lexington, call Slechter Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a consultation. As dog bite attorneys, Mr. Slechter and Mrs. Slechter are committed to helping you move forward.
Kentucky’s Dog Bite Law
Each state sets its own rules surrounding personal injury cases and it’s important to understand Kentucky dog bite law before pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Kentucky is what’s known as a “strict liability” state which generally puts the most responsibilities and restrictions on the dog owner themselves. This law says that a person has standing to seek compensation from a dog bite or injury inflicted by a dog if they can prove two things: one, that the injury was clearly caused by the dog; and two, that the victim was either on public property when the injury occurred, or they were legally on private property (ie. they weren’t trespassing).
Importantly, unlike in some other states, this state law does not require proving negligence of the dog owner, nor that the dog has previously shown a propensity for violence or has already bitten someone else. Kentucky also has a premises liability law that compensates those who were injured on someone else’s property and this can include dog attacks. In general, the dog bite law gives more preference to the victim than the dog owner.
Who Pays for the Medical Bills?
One of the most common questions people have following an incident like this is, “Who is liable for the medical bills after a dog bite?” Under the state’s strict rules, the dog owner should be held responsible for all damages caused by their dog. This includes all medical bills that were sustained from a bite itself, or the attack in general. For example, if a large dog jumps up on an individual to attack and causes the person to fall backward off a step, the injuries sustained from this fall would also be covered by the dog owner.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog, it’s essential that you seek medical care immediately and that you follow up with all treatment plans and specialist visits that your doctor orders. You must be able to prove your injuries are directly related to the dog attack and have a clear idea of the extent so you know how much compensation to pursue. You also only have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim against the dog owner, and this will pass more quickly than you expect. Don’t waste any time in seeing a doctor or contacting a lawyer.
Comparative Negligence in Kentucky
Another key legal concept to understand in these cases is comparative negligence. This is another state law that outlines how liability can be shared in some personal injury cases like this. For example, if during the investigation it’s discovered that the victim was provoking or taunting the dog before the attack took place, a judge may determine they hold a share of responsibility and their final settlement would be reduced by this percentage. In this case, if the victim was found to be 40% at fault and the final settlement was $10,000, then they would only receive $6,000 to make up for their share of the liability.
While it’s not uncommon for the comparative negligence statute to come into play, by working with an experienced dog bite attorney, you may be able to increase your total settlement amount or reduce your percentage of fault, thereby increasing your net payout.
The most common type of compensation in dog bite cases is for medical expenses, but there are other damages you may be eligible for depending on the nature of your case. Some victims can seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost income, property damage, or in rare cases, punitive damages (note that you must prove gross negligence or misconduct for this).
Experienced Legal Guidance You Can Trust
Getting attacked by a dog can not only leave you with serious injuries, but it can also result in lasting trauma. If this has happened to you, you owe it to yourself and your family to get the monetary relief you deserve. Reach out to Slechter Law Firm, PLLC in Louisville, Kentucky today to learn about your options.