No Matter The Legal Issue, It’s Not Just Our Duty To Help You,
It’s Our Mission

When is a dog owner responsible for an attack?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Personal Injury

Understanding when a dog owner is responsible for an attack in Kentucky is crucial for both dog owners and victims. Kentucky has specific laws that outline the situations when a dog owner may be considered liable for injuries caused by their pet. 

This guide will explain the legal framework governing dog attacks, including the factors determining owner responsibility.

Strict Liability

Kentucky operates under a strict liability rule regarding dog attacks. According to Revised Statutes § 258.235, a dog owner is liable for any damages caused by their dog, regardless of the dog’s prior behavior or the owner’s knowledge of any potential danger. 

This means that even if a dog has never shown aggressive behavior, the owner can still be considered responsible if the dog bites or attacks someone.

Defining Ownership

Liability extends to the dog’s primary owner and anyone who keeps or harbors the dog. This includes individuals who may be temporarily responsible for the dog, such as pet sitters or friends caring for the dog. The law ensures that the responsible party is held accountable, regardless of technical ownership.

Provocation and Trespassing

While the strict liability rule generally favors victims, there are exceptions. The owner’s liability may be reduced or eliminated if the victim provoked the dog. Provocation can include teasing, hitting or otherwise antagonizing the dog. 

Additionally, if the victim of the attack or bite was trespassing at the time of the attack, the owner’s liability may be diminished. The law recognizes the owner’s right to protect their property from intruders.

Dog owners in Kentucky bear significant responsibility for their pets’ actions. The state’s strict liability laws ensure that victims of dog attacks can seek redress without needing to prove the owner’s negligence. Understanding these legal principles is essential for dog owners and victims to navigate the aftermath of a dog attack effectively.