Lexington Dog Bite Attorneys
While the vast majority of dogs are friendly companions, that is not always the case. Indeed, each year dozens of people are killed in dog attacks, and thousands more are seriously injured. Those who have survived an animal attack are legally entitled to pursue compensation for any injuries they sustained through a Lexington dog bite lawsuit.
Below are some interesting statistics about fatal dog bites in the United States:
- It is estimated that there are 4.7 million dog bites each year, with nearly 800,000 resulting in the need for medical care
- Between 2005 and 2018, 471 Americans were killed in dog attacks
- Pitbulls and Rottweilers were responsible for 76 percent of those fatalities
- 42 percent of dog bite victims were children aged six or younger
- The majority of fatal dog bites occur on the animal owner’s property
Kentucky’s Dog Bite Laws
When it comes to dog bite laws, states take different approaches. Some states do not allow an accident victim to hold an animal’s owner responsible for the actions of a dog unless the owner knew that the dog had previously acted in a dangerous manner. This is called the “one bite” rule because an animal is only considered “dangerous” if it has bitten or tried to attack in the past.
Other states, including Kentucky, use a strict liability system to determine legal liability in the event of a dog bite. Under a strict liability system, the owner of an animal is strictly liable for their pet’s actions, regardless of whether the owner or the victim had any knowledge of the dog’s violent propensity. Kentucky’s dog bite law is contained in Kentucky Revised Statutes section 258.235, and states very clearly that “any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” The law goes on to explain the procedure by which a Lexington dog bite victim must follow to pursue a claim against an animal’s owner.
To establish strict liability against a dog’s owner, a person must show:
- The defendant is the owner or keeper of the animal;
- The dog viciously attacked without cause;
- The attacked happened off the owner’s property.
The law also requires that all “vicious” dogs be kept behind a seven-foot fence with a secured top. Additionally, vicious dogs are only allowed to leave to visit the veterinarian or to be turned in to an animal shelter and must wear a muzzle during these trips.
Defenses in a Lexington Dog Bite Case
While Kentucky is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite liability, there are situations where principles of negligence will arise. As noted above, the strict-liability statute will not apply in all dog bite cases. For example, if an animal attacks a guest who is visiting the owner’s home. In such cases, a dog bite victim may need to show that the owner was negligent for having allowed the animal to be around invited guests, or for failing to properly secure the animal while guests are visiting. While an owner’s knowledge of their pet’s past history of violence is not relevant or necessary under a strict-liability claim, it is certainly helpful in a negligence claim.
Dog owners may claim that the person who was bit by their dog provoked the animal or shared in the blame for the incident. Again, in cases where there is an allegation of provocation, the state’s strict liability statute may not be applicable. Instead, a traditional negligence analysis will be used, and the court may reduce a victim’s total compensation award by their own percentage of fault.
Available Damages in Lexington Dog Bite Cases
Dogs can be vicious animals and, when an animal attacks someone, there is a high likelihood that the victim suffered serious injuries. In some cases, dog bite injuries cause serious injury and may result in permanent disfigurement. Those who have been attacked by a dog may be entitled to considerable compensation through a Kentucky dog bite lawsuit.
The types of damages that are available in a Lexington dog bite lawsuit depend on the severity of the victim’s injuries, and may include:
- Past medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- The cost of rehabilitation
- Lost wages based on missed work
- Decrease in future earning potential
- Past and future physical pain and suffering
- Past and future emotional pain and suffering
In rare circumstances, an accident victim may be able to obtain punitive damages from an animal owner. Punitive damages are not concerned so much with the plaintiff, but instead are focused on deterring the reckless or intentional conduct of the defendant that gave rise to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Have You Been Attacked by a Dog?
If you or a loved one has recently been attacked by a dog, contact the dedicated Lexington dog bite lawyers at Hessig & Pohl. At Hessig & Pohl, we are ready to help you and your family overcome the challenges you face. Our attorneys can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, regardless of the nature of the accident. We handle Lexington dog bite cases, as well as slip-and-fall claims and wrongful death cases. We will not collect a fee unless we can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Contact us through this website, or call our office at (502) 777-1111. The initial consultation is always free.
Marty fought for me when the insurance company denied my claim. We sued and got the insurance limits.