Liability for dog attacks/bites includes not just the owner or a dog but harborers AND OWNERS OF THE PROPERTYIF A DOG IS PERMITTED ON THE PROPERTY!!

The following nonpublished decision is of major import in cases involving dog bites/attacks by dogs owned or kept by renters or occupants of property owned by another.

If a renter's dog bites a guest to his apartment or in the yard, there is no dispute that the dog's owner is liable as the owner.  However, the tenant usually has inadequate funds and rarely has purchased liability insurance (renter's insurance). Thus, no compensation via insurance for injuries.

However, the following case shows that the apartment owner/landlord may be liable for his tenant's dog (and the landlord typically has either assets or insurance).

KRS 258.235(4) states that “[a]ny owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” KRS 258.095(5) defines an owner, “when applied to the proprietorship of a dog, includes every person having a right of property in the dog and every person who keeps or harbors the dog, or has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about premises owned or occupied by him.”

The apartment owner who does not exclude a tenant's dogs is potentially liable since he/she has permitted the dog to remain on the premises owned by him.  And note, that we are not talking just about dog bites, but any damage caused by the dog dog to include mauling, scratching, jumping up and knocking down.

In his "care" should include groomers or folks who board dogs, too.

It is a nonpublished opinion, but the analysis is sound.

Dog Bite Statute.  Owner.
Bell v. Kruse
2010-CA-000323-MR
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
KENTON

STUMBO, JUDGE: Ashley Bell appeals from a partial summary judgment which determined Joseph Kruse was not liable for an injury resulting from a dog bite. Bell argues that summary judgment was improper as Kruse was an “owner” of the dog as it is defined by statute. We agree and reverse the summary judgment.

We find that granting summary judgment in favor of Kruse was in error. Kruse allowed Herindon and Robinson to keep dogs on the premises owned by him. He could have not allowed dogs on his rental property. By allowing the dogs to stay on the property, he became an “owner” pursuant to KRS 258.095(5). When the dog injured Bell, Kruse, along with Herindon and Robinson, became potentially liable for her injuries pursuant to KRS 258.235(4). These two statutes are clear and unambiguous. A plain reading shows that Kruse is an “owner” in this situation and may be to some degree liable for Bell’s injuries.

KRS 258.235(4) states that “[a]ny owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” KRS 258.095(5) defines an owner, “when applied to the proprietorship of a dog, includes every person having a right of property in the dog and every person who keeps or harbors the dog, or has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about premises owned or occupied by him.”

This is not to say Kruse is one hundred percent liable for the injuries; he has defenses.
Even if [KRS 258.235(4)] created a strict liability action, negligence principles are still applicable, as the dog owner’s liability should be subject to the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under a strict liability theory, the owners of an animal may exculpate themselves from liability by showing that the harm was caused by the victim’s fault, or by the fault of a third person for whom the owner was not responsible, or by a fortuitous circumstance. Carmical v. Bullock, 251 S.W.3d 324, 327 (Ky. App. 2007). See also Dykes v. Alexander, 411 S.W.2d 47 (Ky. 1967) (no liability to trespassers); Jordan v. Lusby, 81 S.W.3d 523 (Ky. App. 2002) (no liability when the injured party assumed the risk).

We find that Kruse fits the definition of owner as set forth by the statutes above. It will, therefore, be up to the finder of fact to determine and, if appropriate, apportion the liability of the parties in this action. We reverse the summary judgment and remand this case to the circuit court.

 

 

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