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Another man's dog might be his best friend, but not yours

Dogs are typically loyal and protective of their owners, and that can also make them extremely dangerous. The problem is that you never know when a dog feels you are threatening its owner, and it might attack you without provocation. Thousands of people in Kentucky and other states suffer animal bites every year, and dog bites are the most prevalent of these attacks.

What should you do after a dog attack?

While it is important to get medical attention immediately, you might want to take a note of the name, and how to get in touch with the dog's owner or any witnesses before you leave the scene, or else you might never be able to obtain that information. Dog bites can be life threatening if the dog is diseased, so it is imperative to find out whether the animal had its rabies shots.

Who is liable?

Kentucky bases its animal bite laws on strict liability, making the owner of the animal responsible regardless of the circumstances. The only exceptions would be if you provoked the dog or trespassed on its owner's property. Depending on the circumstances of the attack and where it occurred, one of the following parties could also be responsible for injuries caused by animal bites:

  • The person in charge of facilities such as a dog pound or kennel
  • An animal sitter who assumed charge of the dog while it was in his or her care
  • The parents of a minor whose dog bit you
  • A property owner who is not the dog's owner but allowed the animal to be on his or her property
  • A landlord of an apartment complex who was aware of a tenant keeping a potentially dangerous animal

Recoverable damages

The seriousness of the injuries suffered when the dog attacked you will determine the damages that you could claim. Financial losses may include medical expenses or lost wages if you are unable to return to work in the aftermath of the incident. Then there are the emotional damages of which the value is harder to determine. These typically include pain and suffering, and victims often suffer emotional damage in cases of severe scarring -- especially those who were bitten in the face.

Under some circumstances, the court may order a dog owner to pay punitive damages. Such an order typically follows extreme recklessness and intentional misconduct. An example is a pet owner who frequently allows a dog known to be dangerous to run around -- unrestrained -- near a school or in a park, and then, one day, it suddenly attacks a child. A jury might order punitive damages in addition to a standard monetary judgment in such a case.

Where to turn for help.

Navigating an animal bite lawsuit in Kentucky could be challenging. However, the services of skilled attorneys whose experience includes protecting the rights of dog attack victims are available. Seasoned lawyers can work on gathering the necessary evidence to prove negligence, and then present that to a jury in a manner that might lead to a judgment that will cover all your financial and emotional losses.

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