Dogs are the most popular pet in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Americans own a collective 69 million dogs, significantly more than the next two most popular pets, cats (45.3 million) and freshwater fish (11.8 million).
While it might be hard to think of our four-legged friends as anything other than loving companions, the reality is that dogs can (and do) bite. A dog’s bite can cause lasting physical and psychological damage, with many victims facing a lifetime of hardships. This leaves many victims wondering how they can potentially seek compensation for a dog bite.
The first step to answering this question is to garner a better understanding of Kentucky’s dog bite laws.
Kentucky Dog Bite Laws
Kentucky state law operates on the premise of strict liability regarding dog bites. This means that regardless of a dog’s past behavior or temperament, an owner is virtually always responsible should their pet bite or attack another person. A pet owner whose dog has bitten and injured someone can be held responsible for their animal’s actions through a personal injury claim, which is handled in the civil court system. This type of claim seeks to restore justice to victims by awarding them compensation for their financial, physical, and emotional damages.
However, there is an exception to the idea of strict liability in dog accident cases. State law also considers comparative negligence when determining how much a victim might be owed for their injuries. This means that a dog bite victim’s percentage of fault will be taken into account and then used to reduce the overall award. A victim who is 10% at fault for a dog bite will therefore have their compensation reduced by 10%.
In the case of a dog bite or attack, contributory negligence may include:
- Hitting or kicking a dog
- Approaching a dog that is showing signs of aggression or fear, such as bared teeth or a tucked tail
- Ignoring a dog’s warning signs to stay back, including barking, snarling, or growling
- Poking your fingers, arms, or other body parts through a fence where an animal is housed
- Pulling on a dog’s ears or tail
In many cases, dog owners and their insurers will try to assign a higher percentage of liability to bite accident victims. This method allows them to limit their own legal liability while reducing how much compensation you are eligible to receive.
Does Dog Breed Matter When Filing a Dog Bite Claim?
Dog breed is not a factor when it comes to recovering compensation for a serious dog bite injury. What matters is the severity of the bite or attack and its resulting injuries. Even a small dog can cause significant damage, especially if the victim is a small child, elderly, or otherwise unable to protect themselves.
Dog Breeds That Are Most Likely To Bite
Most people in Lexington, KY already have preconceived ideas about which dog breeds bite people the most. According to one study, both dog-owners and non-owners alike believe that the following dogs are the most likely to bite:
- Pit bulls (including the American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and American Pit bull terrier)
- German shepherds
- Doberman pinschers
Among the breeds that study participants believed least likely to bite were Golden retrievers, Cocker spaniels, and Beagles.
Perception does not always match reality, though. Another study determined the following six breeds to be responsible for the majority of dog bites:
- Pit bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German shepherds
The dogs least likely to bite are:
- Great Danes
Peterson Law Office cautions all dog owners and those who are around dogs to not let your guard down when interacting with dogs, regardless of breed. A dog that is less likely to bite is still capable of doing so, and often all it takes is a single bite to cause severe, irreversible damage.
Most Common Dog Bite Injuries
Of the 4.5 million people who are bit by dogs every year, only around 800,000 people require medical attention. The most common types of dog bite injuries that send people to the hospital include:
- Deep puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Facial injuries
- Tissue and nerve damage
There is also the concern for potential exposure to rabies after being bitten by an unknown dog, or a dog whose rabies vaccination status is not known.
Who Is Most Likely To Be Bitten by a Dog
Children are the most common victims of dog bites. Many of these bites are the result of regular or daily interaction with either a family dog, or a dog with whom they are familiar. Both parents and dog owners should monitor children’s interactions with dogs, providing redirection when appropriate and separating the dog to a separate environment when necessary.
How To Claim Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury
Filing a personal injury claim is the most effective legal avenue to secure compensation for a dog bite injury. A personal injury claim is a lawsuit handled in the civil court system, and it seeks to hold a negligent dog owner financially liable for the harm their dog caused.
Although it is possible to file a dog bite claim on your own, many victims find that having the backing of a practiced attorney results in more favorable outcomes. A dog bite lawyer can:
- Investigate the circumstances around your dog bite and what led to the attack
- Determine liability
- Deal with the at-fault pet owner’s homeowners insurance on your behalf
- Value the worth of your claim and negotiate for maximum compensation
A good attorney will also be by your side throughout the entire process, ready to answer any and all questions that you might have about your case.
Peterson Law Office Advocates for Dog Bite Victims
Being bitten by a dog is both a physically and emotionally traumatizing event. Chronic injuries and a life-long fear of dogs are not at all uncommon after an unexpected attack. While we know that we cannot undo the harm that you have already suffered, Peterson Law Office prides itself on being part of the solution.
As your legal team, Peterson Law Office will provide unrivaled advocacy to your legal case. If you are ready to talk with a dog bite attorney in person, contact our Lexington, KY law office to schedule your free case evaluation. Meeting with us in this setting does not create a legal obligation to work with our law firm.