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The Whaley Law Firm Personal Injury Podcast – Episode 7

Hosted by Louisville personal injury attorney Aaron Whaley

Dogs are known as man’s best friend, but sometimes things happen. In Episode 7 of The Whaley Law Firm Personal Injury Podcast, Louisville personal injury attorney Aaron Whaley discusses factors involved in handling dog bite cases. Have you been injured in an accident due to negligence? Contact our law firm today for your free consultation.

Whaley Law Firm Personal Injury Podcast

EP007 Notes

Strict Liability for Pet Owners

Kentucky is a strict liability state. If you own the dog and the dog bites someone, liability is all the injured person needs to prove. The victim doesn’t have to prove the owner of the dog was negligent. The jury can, however, take into account negligence on the part of the injured victim. For instance, if the dog is in the backyard and someone climbs the fence, if the dog bites the individual, the fact that the person entered the yard can be considered in determining the amount of the verdict.  Kentucky is also a comparative negligence state. This gives the jury the ability to assign a portion of the negligence to one or both parties.

Is there a “First Bite” Rule?

This is a misconception.  There’s nothing in the law that gives the owner of the pet a free pass, simply because the dog has never bitten someone in the past.

Can Landlords Be Held Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?

There’s an open question of whether a landlord could be held liable for a renter whose dog bites someone. If the animal has a history of biting, is a dangerous breed, and other factors, there’s a possibility of the landlord being held negligent (and therefore at least partly liable) for allowing the dangerous animal to stay on premises.

Now, if the landlord doesn’t reside with the renter, or the renter did not disclose the presence of the animal, the landlord may have some insulation in terms of strict liability. There’s still a chance he/she could be found negligent by allowing the dog to remain on the premises.

Common Injuries to Consider in a Dog Bite Case

Depending on the severity of the bite, there are a number of factors that may be considered.  Here are a few examples:

  • Medical bills and lost wages
  • Infections
  • Permanent scars, especially facial scars
  • Loss of vision
  • The psychological and emotional impact of the attack (e.g. PTSD)
  • Wrongful death and the resulting loss of consortium claims

In proving your case, the psychological and emotional conditions need to be documented by a professional (e.g. a psychologist, therapist, etc.) to help substantiate the case.

Who is Going to Pay for My Injuries?

In many cases, a claim against the homeowner’s insurance can be filed. However, the current interpretation of liability rests with adjacent yards. So, if a person is bitten in the homeowner’s yard, it’s an easier claim to file against their insurance. However, if the dog gets loose and bites someone a couple of blocks away from the home, the policy’s coverage probably isn’t liable.

This also holds even if the dog runs across the street and bites someone.  Again, it’s because the house across the street is not adjacent to the property. The owner can still be sued, but it’s important that the pet-owner has the ability to pay. A judgement can be won, but if they can’t pay it’s not worth much. That person could also file bankruptcy to escape the judgement.

Renter’s insurance may be an option, if the pet-owner is renting and a policy exists. Also, as mentioned above, there may be a possibility of pursuing the landlord, if the proper circumstances exist.

Preparing for a Dog Bite Claim

Your attorney will handle this in much the same way as other personal injury claims. The medical bills and expenses are collected. The other party’s insurance company assigns an adjuster to handle the claim. A demand package is prepared, listing the compensation the victim is requesting. Negotiations ensue and, ideally, a fair and reasonable settlement is achieved. If this cannot be achieved, the victim and his/her lawyer may decide to file a lawsuit.

How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Case?

The general statute of limitation applies. You generally have one year from the date of the incident.

What if I Sustained an Injury from the Attack, other than a Dog Bite?

You can bring a claim for other injuries, such as broken bones resulting from an animal knocking you down. It can include any damage caused by the animal.

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Important Disclaimers:

The information provided on this podcast is for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. You should seek the advice of an attorney for guidance related to your specific situation. I am only licensed in Kentucky, so the general advice provided may not apply outside of Kentucky.

This podcast maybe freely shared but may not be the modified or edited in any way.

This is an attorney advertisement. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.

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