Dog Bites & Animal Attacks

Animal Attacks - Dog Bites - Lawsuits for Mauling, Death, Dismemberment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that dogs bite 4.7 million people a year, and each year dog bites cause 800,000 Americans to seek medical treatment. Approximately 16 people die every year from such attacks. Half of the victims of dog bites are children, with children ages 5 to 9 having the highest rate of dog bite-related injuries.

Kentucky dog-bite liability statutes make the owner of a dog strictly liable for damages and injuries caused by the dog, a legal theory generally known as "strict liability." Kentucky statutes long ago revoked the common law rule known as "one free bite" or "knowledge of viciousness." Under Kentucky law, therefore, a dog owner is liable for the injuries caused by the dog regardless of whether the dog has bitten anyone in the past or shown any prior evidence of being dangerous. KRS 258.235(4) sets forth the current law regarding injuries or damage caused by a dog: "Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage." The animal owner's homeowners insurance will generally provide coverage for the damages caused by an animal attack.

Kentucky Dog Bite Lawyers

Injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite or animal attack can be significant and can frequently cause soft tissue damage, scarring, broken bones, disfigurement, dismemberment, and even death. Victims often sustain additional damages in the form of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. In spite of plastic surgery, scarring and disfigurement may not be completely corrected, and the victim may be left with permanent disfigurement.

Dogs and other animals can cause a variety of accidents and injuries for which the owners can be held liable:

  • Dog bites or attacks
  • Slip and fall caused by dogs running into someone or knocking them down
  • Car accidents caused by dogs running into the street

If you or a family member has been injured by a dog bite or other animal attack, call or email one of our lawyers for a free case evaluation. Our experienced Lexington and Louisville personal injury attorneys can quickly gather the information and evidence needed to prepare your claim for settlement or litigation so that you can hold the negligent party responsible and be compensated for the damages you suffered. Before you agree to sign any papers or accept any payment from a pet owner or insurance company, talk with the attorneys at Varellas & Varellas to determine your rights.

In the recent case of Benningfield v. Zinsmeister, the Kentucky Supreme Court interpreted the definition of "owner" of a dog to include a landlord who has permitted a tenant to keep the dog on the leased premises. Thus, after a dog attack, the owner of the dog can be held liable for damages suffered but, if the owner leases property from a landlord that has allowed the dog to live with the tenant, the landlord is equally liable for the damages and injuries caused by a dog attack on or about the leased premises.

Recognizing that half the victims of dog bites are children, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published recommendations for teaching children basic safety around dogs. The CDC recommends that children be taught the following dog safety rules:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

In a study conducted by the CDC to determine the breeds of dogs involved in fatal attacks of persons in the United States, it was determined that from 1979 to 1998 the following breeds of dogs were involved in the listed number of dog bite-related fatalities:


  • Pit bull-type 66
  • Rottweiler 39
  • German Shepherd Dog 17
  • Husky-type 15
  • Malamute 12
  • Doberman Pinscher 9
  • Chow Chow 8
  • Great Dane 7
  • Saint Bernard 7


  • Wolf-dog hybrid 14
  • Mixed-breed 12
  • German Shepherd Dog 10
  • Pit bull-type 10
  • Husky-type 6
  • Rottweiler 5
  • Alaskan Malamute 3
  • Chow Chow 3
  • Doberman Pinscher 0
  • Saint Bernard 1
  • Great Dane 0

Free Case Evaluation by Our Experienced Attorneys

As with other personal injury cases, Kentucky law sets time limits (statutes of limitation) for filing a claim or lawsuit for injuries and damages caused by an animal attack or dog bite. If you wait too long, you can be prevented from recovering all damages related to the animal attack. Our lawyers have experience handling dog bite and animal attack cases and will work quickly to meet the necessary deadlines for filing a claim so that your case can be settled or filed in court, if necessary. Call one of the attorneys at Varellas & Varellas soon after the attack so that we can gather the evidence necessary to help you collect for the damages you suffered including medical costs, lost wages, broken bones, pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, dismemberment, or death.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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