Many dog bites are not much more than annoying. However, as outlined below, many of these attacks cause serious injuries on many levels. Every year, over 800,000 Americans visit hospital Emergency Rooms because of dog bite injuries. These injuries are usually permanent, at least to an extent.
These victims need and deserve compensation for these injuries. They need it because most health insurance companies don’t cover injury-related medical expenses. They deserve it because the attack wasn’t their fault. Additionally, the insurance company, and not the individual, is financially responsible for damages. The insurance company also pays all other costs, like hiring a lawyer.
Speaking of insurance companies, these companies are committed to minimum compensation for victims. These firms don’t build huge office buildings because they pay claims. On the other hand, a Lexington personal injury attorney is committed to maximum compensation. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Dog Bite Injuries
It’s very easy to focus exclusively on the gruesome physical wounds that an animal attack causes, especially if, as is often the case, the victim was a small child. But there are other wounds which might be even deeper.
Let’s start with the physical injuries. When a large dog suddenly lunges at a vulnerable victim, the knockdown usually shatters bones and causes a head, neck, and/or back injury. Such injuries often permanently impair mobility in a developing body. Then, when dogs bite, their teeth cause severe tearing lacerations as well as deep puncture wounds.
These physical injuries have very high infection rates. Capnocytophaga and tetanus are the most common bacterial infections. Many victims haven’t had tetanus shots in at least a decade. Capnocytophaga is almost as serious as tetanus, especially if the victim has a pre-existing condition.
What makes infections so dangerous is that, in many cases, the initial wound wasn’t that bad. Victims only show serious infection symptoms several days later. Usually, attorneys must file separate claims to obtain compensation for infection-related injuries.
These wounds usually leave lasting scars, and these scars are not just physical. Many dog bite victims experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms, such as nightmares, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. Issues like these make it difficult or impossible to function in daily environments.
Your Legal Options
Kentucky’s dog bite laws might be the most comprehensive, and victim-friendly, such laws in the country. So, these victims normally have multiple legal options.
One unique feature of Kentucky law is the dangerous dog designation. Judges have broad powers to affix this label to animals, even if they haven’t yet seriously injured a person. Vicious dogs must be confined in cages and muzzled if their owners let them out. On a related note, any person may legally “kill or seize any dog which is observed attacking any person.”
But these provisions don’t include compensation provisions. For that to happen, victim/plaintiffs must use one of the following theories:
- Strict Liability: The law in the Bluegrass State is brief and to the point. “Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” These owners may also face criminal charges in some cases. In fact, this law is so broad that it might alienate some jurors, largely because most jurors are also pet owners.
- Scienter (Knowledge): Pretty much all jurors, even pet owners, are willing to hold owners responsible for damages if there is evidence that the dog was dangerous. Direct and circumstantial evidence is available on this point. Direct evidence usually involves the aforementioned vicious dog designation. Circumstantial evidence of knowledge usually includes sudden lungin, vicious growling, and other pre-bite behavior.
- Negligence Per Se: We aren’t quite done with animal restraint laws yet. Most cities and counties have such requirements which apply to all animals. If the owners violated a leash or fence law, and that violation substantially caused injury, the owner could be liable for damages as a matter of law. Additionally, state law prohibits owners of vicious animals from allowing them to “run at large.”
There are some other aspects of Kentucky law which are not as victim-friendly. For example, trespassers are not entitled to compensation, even if the trespasser was a small child.
Provocation, which is an offshoot of comparative fault, is the most common defense in dog bite claims. In Kentucky courts, the P-word has a very narrow meaning. Victims who make sudden moves cannot accidentally provoke dogs. INstead, provocation is always an intentional act. Additionally, it’s usually a physical act. Mere aggressive teasing might not be legal provocation.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers