Bizarre Dog Attack Case Heads to Grand Jury

Bizarre Dog Attack Case Heads to Grand Jury

Kentucky is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog attacks and dog bites. In other words, a dog’s owner can be held liable for a victim’s injuries even if the dog has never displayed aggressive behaviors in the past. Per Kentucky Revised Statutes 358.235(4), “Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” This means that an owner may have to pay restitution even if their dog just playfully knocked someone over. It all comes down to what injuries are sustained by the claimant. Of course, the court may reduce a victim’s compensatory damages if there is reason to believe that the injury was caused by a failure to exercise reasonable caution.

But what if the victim is your spouse? And how can a dog bite lead to first-degree felony charges?

The Curious Case of Christopher Collins

On November 1, 2018, Christopher Collins returned home to find his wife, April, unresponsive and bleeding from multiple dog bite wounds. She died the next day at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. What’s unique about this case – aside from the tragedy – is that Collins is now facing first degree wanton endangerment charges.

According to Detective Matt Eversole of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, April Collins had been previously injured by the pit bull, Duke, on both September 29 and October 31 of 2018. Collins claims that he didn’t report the incident on October 31 because he was scared for his dog’s life. Court documents also reveal that Collins repeatedly sent texts throughout the day warning his wife not to drink because her behavior scares the dog. Toxicology reports have since confirmed that there was alcohol in April Collins’ system at the time of her death.

The Charges

Collins was served with a warrant for second-degree wanton endangerment charges and a violation for not reporting the October 31, 2018 episode. According to state laws, a bite victim, owner, or medical professional has a legal obligation to notify authorities about any dog attack within 12 hours of the incident. After Collins’ arrest, prosecutors amended his charge to first-degree wanton endangerment, making the charge a felony.

The difference between first- and second-degree wanton endangerment charges are as follows:

  • A first-degree charge involves conduct that creates a risk of death or severe physical injuries
  • A second-degree charge involves conduct that creates a risk of physical injuries

If convicted, Collins could face 1-5 years in prison. His lawyer claims that liability fully falls on April Collins, because she was “the one home with the dog” and “I’ve not heard any conduct on his part that contributed to her tragic situation. Countering this assertion is Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Heidi Engel, who opines that Collins knew “the dog could attack her. She’s left alone. It’s failure to protect an individual.”

The case has been forwarded to the grand jury, which has 60 days to make a final determination.

Have You Sustained a Dog Bite? Schedule a Consultation Today

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by an aggressive dog, contact the trial-tested Lexington dog bite lawyers at Goeing Goeing & McQuinn PLLC. Our legal team has a comprehensive understanding of applicable state laws, as well as the expenses commonly associated with serious bite injuries. We understand that a single attack can lead to a lifetime of suffering, especially when the victim is a child. With our help, you can maximize your claim and recover compensatory damages that facilitate your physical and financial recovery.

Rely on 40+ years of collective legal experience. Call Goeing Goeing & McQuinn PLLC at (859) 534-9327 to schedule a consultation.

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