Senate bill to protect landlords from liability for dog bites passes in committee

01/19/2016 06:25 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would alleviate legal liability for a property owner whose tenants dog bites an individual has been passed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Senate Bill 68, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, known as “the dog bite bill,” would amend the current statute KRS 258.095 to modify the definition of persons who would qualify as the “owner” of a dog.

In 2012, a Kentucky Supreme Court decision found that a landlord could be considered a dog owner of his tenant’s dog for the purposes of legal liability.

Alvarado says that under current law, landlords are responsible for the actions of their tenant’s animals which put unfair pressure on property owners who may not even know that a dog is living on their property.

“Basically, a landlord would be liable even if he or she was not negligent, if he or she was acting in good faith, or if he or she had no knowledge of the dogs existence or tendency to bite,” Alvarado said.

Venessa Cantley, A Kentucky injury attorney, spoke in favor of the current statute saying that it doesn’t put the burden on an innocent party, it puts the burden on the people in the best position to either prevent the incident from occurring or cover for the damage that’s done.

“When my children’s clients are mauled, it is nine times out of ten by a dog owned by a tenant who has no assets and no insurance,” Cantley said. “The only remedy that that child has is the homeowner’s insurance coverage of the owned property.”

Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, voted against the bill saying is takes the landlord completely off the hook whether they would be at fault or not.

“It would totally take the landlord out of any potential recovery, whether they knew, not knew, promoted, or encouraged any activity,” Webb said. “It would fully insulate the landlord regardless of conduct.”

The legislation will head to the full Senate for their consideration.


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