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Who is responsible when a dog attacks?

Most of personal injury law is concerned with the ways humans can hurt each other through carelessness. But what about when a dog causes the injury?

Kentucky law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. Strict liability means the injured party doesn’t have to prove that the owner knew the dog was dangerous before the attack, or did anything in particular that was wrong before the attack. As long as the owner’s dog caused the injury, the owner can be held liable for the injured party’s damages.

However, another legal theory known as comparative negligence can limit the amount of damages the injured person can recover in some cases. Under comparative negligence theory, Kentucky courts review the facts of the case and determine what percentage of fault each party holds for causing the incident in question. If the plaintiff holds a certain percentage of fault, his or her award is reduced by that percentage.

For example, imagine a case where Audrey’s dog bites Barbara, injuring her. Barbara must get medical treatment, and suffers $10,000 in damages. Audrey is held to strict liability. However, the court reviews the facts of the case and finds that Barbara carelessly approached the dog when it was snarling, straining at its leash and otherwise showing signs that it was ready to attack. Therefore, the court determines that Barbara was 25% at fault for the attack. Applying comparative negligence, the court reduces Barbara’s award by 25%. She can now collect only $7,500.

Dog bites can lead to serious or disfiguring injuries, causing enormous medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income and other damages. A personal injury action can help the injured and their families cope with the aftermath of an attack.

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