The answer to this simple question is not so simple — the answer is “maybe.” Whether or not you can sue a landlord for a tenant’s dog depends on a couple of factors. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court made it a little bit easier to hold a landlord responsible for a tenant’s dog in a 2012 ruling.
In Benningfield v. Zinsmeister (2012), the court held that a dog bite victim may hold the landlord liable for a tenant’s dog in certain circumstances. Ultimately, the landlords in this case were not found liable for the damages caused by the dog attack. However, the decision did broaden a landlord’s liability by holding a landlord can be considered an “owner” of the dog by allowing the dog to “remain on or about premises owned or occupied” by the landlord. (See KRS 258.095(5)).
This is important when you review Kentucky’s strict liability statute regarding dog attacks (KRS258.235(4)). The law reads that a dog owner “whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” If a landlord can be found to be the “owner” for statutory purposes, the landlord can be held liable for any damages caused by the dog.
Clarifying The Landlord’s Liability
The Supreme Court held in Benningfield that a landlord can be sued and held liable for a dog bite IF the landlord allowed the dog to remain on the property. However, there was one very important distinction the court made that further clarified when a landlord can be held liable for a dog attack. The court defined what it meant by “on or about the premises.”
For the landlord to be liable, the dog attack must occur on property owned by the landlord or on property directly adjacent to the landlord’s property (i.e. sidewalk). If the dog attack occurs down the street from the landlord’s property, the landlord may not be liable for any damages from the dog attack.
Hire An Experienced Louisville Dog Attack Attorney
Determining if a landlord is liable for a tenant’s dog in a dog attack can be complicated. The attorney must prove several factors to be true in order to recover compensation from the landlord. An experienced Louisville dog bite attorney can help. If a landlord is involved, you definitely want to investigate whether the landlord may be held liable for your damages.
A landlord often has insurance and other assets that can cover damages in a dog attack. In contrast, most tenants do not bother to purchase renter’s or liability insurance. Suing the tenant may not result in anything; however, suing the landlord may open the way to recover more compensation.
If you have been attacked by a dog, it is in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced Louisville dog attack attorney. Our attorneys fully investigate every dog attack to determine the liable parties. It is crucial that all parties be named in a dog bite lawsuit in order to maximize recovery for damages.
Contact the Louisville personal injury attorneys of the Shelton Law Group by calling 1-888-761-7204 or by using our online contact form. We offer free legal consultations and free case evaluations for accident victims and their families.