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Dog Bite Claims and Animal-Related Injuries

Episode 38: Calloway County personal injury attorney Jeff Roberts discusses dog bite claims and other animal-related injuries.  These happen fairly frequently.  Jeff has successfully handled a number of these cases over the years.  How the law deals with these types of claims may surprise you.

Take a Dog Bite Injury Seriously

People often fail to understand the dangerous risks related to a dog bite or other animal-related injury.  Even if the wound doesn’t seem serious, the risk of infection can quickly lead to very serious medical conditions.  Jeff strongly recommends having a healthcare professional inspect and treat any injury from a dog bite or cat scratch. 

Misconceptions about Kentucky Law and Dog Bites

Jeff explains that people often make false assumptions about dog bite injuries and the liability of the owners.  Kentucky law does not require the dog to have bitten someone before.  There is no “first bite rule” or “one bite rule” as some might call it.  The dog does not have to have previously demonstrated aggressive behavior for the owner to be held liable.

A person can also file an injury claim even if the animal didn’t bite him or her.  For example, a dog may cause someone to trip and fall causing the person to sustain a broken wrist or worse.  If the fall results in an impact to the head, a brain injury could occur.  Neither of these injuries were the result of an actual bite or other animal attack.

But I Don’t Want to Sue my Family Member or Friend

In situations involving a dog bite injuries or animal-related injuries, you and your attorney could file for damages including:

  • Medical Bills and Expenses
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Other Related Damages

Some dog bite victims are worried about filing a claim against a family member or friend.  In reality, the claim will be filed against his/her homeowner’s insurance policy, not necessarily the family member or friend.

Dog Bite Situations Are “Strict Liability” Cases

Jeff explains that basically strict liability, in these types of cases, occurs when someone is injured by an animal.  You don’t have to prove the owner was negligent.  In practical terms, however, Jeff observes that if you are antagonizing the dog and it bites you as a result of your actions, a Western Kentucky jury may not award you an injury settlement. 

However, if you are simply walking along the sidewalk and the dog runs up and attacks you, it’s obviously a case of strict liability on the behalf of the homeowner and his/her homeowner’s insurance policy.

Other Animal-Related Injury Situations

In rural, Western Kentucky it’s not uncommon for livestock to be involved in animal-related injuries.  Jeff Roberts represented a client who sustained injuries when he crested the top of a hill and suddenly saw a cow standing in the roadway.  When a car collides with cattle, the injuries and damage can be severe to the driver, passengers and vehicle.  Farmers typically have a farm-owner’s policy covering this type of liability.

Interestingly, it can be a challenge to establish ownership of the cow or cattle.  This can be the case when multiple farms exist at or near the site of the collision.  Jeff comments that a repeat offender may try to deny ownership of the cow, but it’s not always the case.  Just like a dog bite claim, it’s not necessary to prove the cow had a history of getting out of the pasture.  The fact that it occurred establishes the liability on behalf of the owner.

If You’ve Been Involved in a Collision with Livestock

Jeff explains that there are steps a driver should take if he/she is involved in a collision with a cow or horse.  The first step is to contact 911.  The police and medical providers should be requested.  If you’re able to do so, the next step is to take pictures of the accident scene.  This helps to preserve evidence for the claim.  If you can locate the section of fencing that’s down, take photos of it for documentation. 

The third step is to notify your insurance company.  Kentucky is a no-fault state.  This means you automatically have a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for medical bills and/or lost wages, assuming you’re driving with an insurance policy.  This is commonly referred to as personal injury protection or PIP coverage.  It enables you and your passengers to get medical treatment.

The fourth step is to seek medical treatment, even if it’s a day or two after the collision.  Go to your family doctor or urgent care to get treatment and to document the aches and pain are likely due to the collision.  The medical documentation will be very important to your injury claim.

Does the Dog Breed Matter in a Dog Bite Claim?

We usually think of pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds and Doberman Pinschers as aggressive dogs and therefore more likely to be involved in a dog bite claim.  In Kentucky, the breed of a dog does not matter in a dog bite claim.  Nonetheless, a bite from one of the larger breeds often results in more severe injuries.

Dog Bite Injury Resulting in Scarring

One of the damages involved in a dog bite claim may involve scarring.  A scar affects people differently.  This is also a matter of where the scar is on the person’s body.  For example, a scar on the hand or arm may treated the same as a scar on the person’s face.  Age can also factor into the value of a claim.

The attack may also result in psychological issues, such as PTSD, can be considered in the claim.  This often occurs if the victim is a child.  The attack may result in the child being afraid of dogs or other animals.  The victim or the parent of the victim should seek therapy to help the individual learn to cope with the anxiety related to the attack.

Properly Treating a Dog Bite Injury

Jeff discusses the serious nature of a dog bite wound.  He states that he is not a doctor and is not trying to provide medical advice, although he does want to stress the seriousness of these injuries.  The common approach might just be to wash it with soap and water.  You may even decide to dab it with peroxide or alcohol.  However, a dog bite is a puncture wound.  The germs and bacteria from the dog’s mouth can get introduced deep into the tissue.  A doctor need to prescribe antibiotics or some other type of treatment to reduce the risk of infection. 

If you begin to notice the signs of an infection around the wound areas, it’s important to seek medical treatment.  Infections from dog bite injuries can have catastrophic results, if left untreated.

Don’t Delay Treatment for a Dog Bite Injury

As an attorney, Jeff Roberts explains how the insurance adjuster or other insurance attorney might try to shift the blame for the injury.  The longer a person waits to seek medical treatment, the more the opportunity exists for the adjuster to argue the wound resulted in something else or another animal not belonging to their client. 

Because of the risk of infection, if a dog bite injuries are not properly treated, there is also a chance the insurance adjuster or attorney could argue that the delay in seeking treatment caused the infection.  Had the wound be properly treated shortly after the incident, the infection might not have happened.  Regardless of the strict liability mentioned earlier, the other side will try to minimize its financial and legal exposure.  Remember, a serious infection can result in hospitalization and/or death. 

Jeff recommends being proactive in these situations.  Delays in treatment can cause problems down the road on multiple levels. 

Jeff Roberts Represents Personal Injury Clients Throughout Kentucky

While his office is located in Calloway County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients across the state.  He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations.  He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney. 

We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful.  Thank you for listening!

Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Personal Injury Claim?

The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108.  For more information, visit This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.