Three Kentuckians have been indicted for a dog attack that killed two-year-old Isaiah Geiling of Louisville. Although criminal charges are not typical in dog bite cases, the facts of this case are especially egregious given the dog’s aggressive behavior and the nature of the attack.
Criminal cases are harder to prosecute as the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, such that the evidence against the defendants must be overwhelming. In a civil action, where you would see most dog bite cases, the standard of proof is “more likely than not”, or greater than 50% likelihood that the defendants were negligent and that their negligence caused the injury.
Kentucky dog-bite civil cases have progressed quite a bit over the last fifty (50) years. Not too long ago, parties argued the “first bite rule”, meaning that a person could not be liable for the actions of their dog unless he had bitten someone in the past. The courts moved away from this draconian standard, and even went so far as to allow Plaintiffs to make a claim against a property owner even if the dog was not theirs, and they had no knowledge of the dog. The law now requires that the Defendant have a relationship with the dog and have some responsibility for the care and maintenance of the dog.
If you are a dog owner, it is recommended that you keep the dog secured either inside your home or on a leash in a fenced yard. If you are expecting a package from a carrier, make sure that any dogs are secured away from the delivery people. Post signs that read “Beware of Dog” to make sure people entering a gated property have been warned of any dogs. These are just some steps to protect innocent invitees (people invited to be on your property) from injury. If you rent property to dog owners, make certain that they have purchased renter’s insurance to protect against claims injured parties may have as a result of their dogs.
If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, seek medical treatment immediately. Many dog bite injuries don’t result from the initial bite itself, but from the infection that can occur as a result of the bite, hence the need for prompt care. Make sure to put the dog owner on notice of the bite, and if possible take photographs of your injuries, treatment, and scarring. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately so that the proper authorities can be notified to detain the dog and take any steps necessary.