Kansas has several laws that apply to dog bites and dog-related injuries, several of which are discussed here. We start with the deadline for filing a dog-bite lawsuit in a Kansas court, then look at Kansas's dog-bite laws and the state's so-called "one-bite rule." Finally, we examine a few ways that dog owners might argue they are not liable if they're facing a dog-bite lawsuit.
Kansas's statute of limitations for personal injury cases sets a deadline on filing these kinds of cases in the state's civil court system. In Kansas, an injured person has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Cases that are filed after the two-year deadline has expired are typically dismissed without a hearing.
Anyone injured by a dog bite (or other dog behavior) who wants to seek damages in a Kansas civil lawsuit must prove one of two things: either that the dog's owner knew the dog would bite, or that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the injuries.
The first situation is known as the "one-bite" rule, and it's still in play in a handful of U.S. states. The one-bite rule requires that a dog's owner knew or had reason to know the dog would bite, in order for that owner to be held liable for injuries the dog causes.
Often, the fact that the dog has bitten someone before is sufficient evidence to show the owner knew or should have known the dog might bite someone else. However, other evidence that the dog acts aggressively or has caused other types of injuries may also be used to demonstrate the owner knew or should have known the dog might cause an injury.
The second situation is known as the "negligence" rule. In a negligence case, the injured person must show that the dog's owner failed to use reasonable care, and that this failure caused the dog bite or other injury. A negligence argument may be used whether the injury was caused by a bite or by other dog behavior. For instance, a person who suffers injury when knocked down by a large dog may argue that the knocking-down would not have occurred if the dog's owner had used reasonable care to restrain the dog.
Kansas has a specific dog-bite statute that applies to injuries a dog causes to livestock or other pets. Kansas Statute 47-645 specifies that a dog's owner is liable in any situation where the dog "shall kill, wound or worry any domestic animal." This law cannot be applied in cases where the dog injures a human being, but it does apply if the dog injures another person's pet or livestock.
A dog owner might raise several possible defenses when facing a lawsuit that claims the dog injured another person. Two of the most commonly-applied defenses are comparative negligence and trespassing.
"Comparative negligence" argues that the injured person was partly or completely responsible for his or her injuries. In dog-bite cases, a comparative negligence argument often -- but not always -- takes the form of a provocation argument. For instance, suppose that a boy is bitten by a dog after repeatedly taunting the dog and throwing stones at it. In court, the dog's owner might argue that the boy is partly or totally responsible for the bite because if he had not provoked the dog, the dog would not have attacked.
Kansas uses a "modified" comparative negligence rule that reduces the injured person's damages by the percentage of fault assigned to that person, as long as the amount of fault is under 50 percent. If the injured person is found to be 50 percent or more at fault, then that person is barred from receiving any damages award.
A Kansas dog owner might also argue that an injured person was trespassing and that therefore the owner should not be liable for damages. Homeowner liability for trespasser injuries is limited in many contexts, including dog-bite law.