In a recent study, researchers at Dogsbite.org gathered data about dog bites across the United States over the 13-year period from 2005 through 2017. Pit bulls were responsible for 66 percent of all bite-related fatalities during this time.
When the researchers divided the data, they found pit bulls caused 58 percent of deaths between 2005 and 2010 and 71 percent of deaths between 2011 and 2017. Sadly, the majority of bite victims in this study were age two or under and 48 percent of all victims were age 10 or under.
Other smaller but more recent studies speak to the dangers of pit bulls. Here are some findings:
- One study found that the risk of suffering a severe wound was 4.4 times higher compared to other breeds.
- Individuals who suffer personal injury from a pit bull are three times more likely to need surgery than those attacked by other breeds.
- Pit bulls are 2.5 times more likely than other breeds to bite in multiple locations on the body during an attack.
If you or a loved one has suffered a bite injury from a pit bull in Louisville, Kentucky, then contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss legal matters as soon as possible. You may have the right to take legal action, and a dog bite attorney can work with the owner’s insurance company while you focus on healing.
Below, we provide information about dog attacks, treatment, liability, and the types of compensation you can recover after suffering injuries from being bitten.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
Kentucky Law enforces strict liability. Meaning, when a dog causes damage or injury to a person, livestock, or other property, the owner is financially responsible for that damage.
Not only is the dog’s owner liable, but if you or your child suffered injuries when a dog attacked, you can file a complaint claiming the owner, or the person caring for the dog, is harboring a vicious animal.
If a court finds the dog is vicious, it can order the owner to confine the dog. In severe cases or in the case of repeat offenses, animal control will be called and the court might order the owner to put down the dog.
You may also have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner. You have one year from the date of the animal attack to file a lawsuit in most cases. An experienced Louisville personal injury attorney understands how to apply the law to your particular situation, so it is best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after an attack.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Injuries
Kentucky has a one-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This means you must bring a lawsuit against the dog’s owner within one year from the date of the attack, in most cases.
If you miss this deadline, you could lose your legal rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Speak with a Louisville pit bull lawyer as soon as possible to avoid losing your valuable rights.
Statute of Limitations Exception for Child Dog Bite Victims
In personal injury cases, child victims may have extra time to file a lawsuit for injuries they suffered. Kentucky law treats being underage as a disability to the extent that minors do not have the capacity to make decisions affecting their legal rights.
In response, the law often allows the statute of limitations for child victims to begin running on their 18th birthday.
This does not mean, however, that you should wait until your child’s 18th birthday to consult with an attorney.
If your young child suffered a bite injury, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may become to prove a case for damages against the animal owner.
Compensation for Dog Bites
If you bring a lawsuit against a negligent dog owner after suffering wounds from being bitten by a dog, you might recover compensation to help you pay for:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance service, emergency room visit, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic imaging, lab tests, pain medication, and travel to and from the doctor/hospital
- Estimated future medical expenses when an injury requires multiple corrective or reconstructive surgeries or causes a permanent disability or condition that requires ongoing medical treatment and higher medical bills
- Mental health service expenses, especially common for children, so victims can overcome the trauma of being attacked
- Lost wages for those who must take time off from work due to the injury, hospitalization, and recovery
- Estimated future lost wages if the injury prevents a person from returning to work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium with a spouse if applicable
- Scarring and disfigurement if an injury results in the loss of a finger, toe, or limb, or causes permanent scars
- Punitive damages if the owner intentionally let his or her dog attack someone
In the event a dog attack led to a fatal injury causing you to lose a child or other family member, you might be eligible for compensation depending on your relationship with the deceased.
Some family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent owner. Compensation from these lawsuits can include some damages listed above, as well as compensation for funeral costs, burial expenses, and damage to the relationship with the deceased.
An experienced Louisville pit bull attorney can answer any questions you have about a wrongful death suit during this difficult time for your family.
Why Dogs Bite
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, and anyone can suffer an attack. Some dogs may have a propensity to bite humans more often than other dog breeds, but a dog’s genetics are not the only factor that can make a dog likely to attack. Other environmental factors can also play a role, such as:
Lack of Socialization with Other Dogs and People
Responsible owners know that socializing puppies and young dogs with other pets and people helps to temper any aggressive tendencies a dog might have. Not having a dog socialized early in life may result in it becoming a dangerous dog later on.
Keeping Dogs Chained or Tied
Chaining dogs up to things like dog houses and trees isolates them from people and other animals. If someone or something approaches a tied-up dog, it will be fearful and feel threatened and may bite.
Cruel Training Methods
Some owners use cruel training methods or specifically train their dogs as guard dogs or watchdogs that should attack when strangers are near. Cruel training methods like these can lead to a dangerous animal who bites anything in its way.
Unfortunately, some owners are abusive. They might starve their dogs or beat them. Abusing a dog is a surefire way to create an aggressive animal who might bite in multiple scenarios and cause serious injury.
Threatening or Cornering a Dog
Even if you do not intend to threaten or corner a dog, if it feels threatened it might bite. This tragic situation often impacts children the most. Unwary little ones approach a “cute dog” to pet it. The dog feels threatened and bites.
Remember to teach your kids never to approach unattended dogs and always ask an owner for permission to touch the dog. This habit could save their life one day.
Getting a Dog Bite Treated
It is important to treat a bite as soon as possible after the event. Dog bites can result in multiple types of serious injury and illness, especially if left untreated. Examples include:
- Diseases and infections like tetanus, rabies, Capnocytophaga bacteria, Pasteurella, and MRSA
- Deep cuts or lacerations, sometimes leaving permanent scars
- Damage to soft tissues including ligaments, muscles, and tendons
- Fractures, often multiple fractures, especially in young children and adults with small-frames
- Emotional trauma from the event, especially common in children
- Death, which is often a result of infections, especially those left untreated
Getting Experienced Support from a Legal Professional
Insurance carriers and dog owners do not like paying out on bite claims. In fact, they will do everything they can to deny or devalue your claim. They might argue that you provoked the dog to bite you or that you caused the dog attack in some other way.
A skilled dog bite lawyer anticipates the strategies and tactics the negligent party and their representatives may use to avoid liability.
Let a Louisville dog bite attorney handle communication and negotiations with the insurance company and defense lawyer, while you focus your time and energy on recovering your health.
Contact the law office of David Bryant Law today online for a free consultation to determine your eligibility for compensation and learn about how we may assist you in the wake of a Louisville pit bull attack.