Kansas Dog Bite Law

A dog bite victim in Kansas can recover compensation under the doctrines of negligence, negligence per se, scienter and intentional tort. There is no dog bite statute so this is a “one bite state.”


Kansas adopted the British “one bite rule” in 1897. Mills v. Smith, 9 Kan. App. 2d 80, 673 P.2d 117 (Kan.App. 1983); Carl, Administratrix v. Ackard, 114 Kan. 640, 644, 220 P. 515 (1923); Hahn v. Kordula, 5 Kan. App. 142, 48 Pac. 896 (1897); see also PIK Civ.2d 12.91. The one-bite rule was created in the 1600s for villagers whose dogs, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and other animals wandered the streets freely and slept in people’s homes. In the USA, 32 states and the District of Columbia have rejected the antiquated and unfair one-bite rule either wholly or partially. Amazingly, the Kansas state legislature has not done so yet. (See The One-Bite Rule and contrast it with strict liability laws at Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA.)

A dog bite victim who is injured in Kansas must prove either that the dog owner had “scienter” or was negligent. The scienter cause of action requires proof that the dog had the dangerous propensity to bite people, and that the dog owner knew it or should have known it prior to the accident in question. Negligence is the unreasonable failure to do something or not do something, which results in injury to a person whom the defendant has a duty to not injure. Read more about these causes of action at Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA.

Interestingly, Kansas courts apply other modern rules of law when those rules make it harder for a dog bite victim to recover compensation. Even in cases where the defendant is strictly liable, Kansas courts will apply principles of comparative fault, measuring the plaintiff’s fault (if any) against that of the defendant so that the victim receives less than the full value of the injury. Mills v. Smith, 9 Kan. App. 2d 80, 673 P.2d 117 (Kan.App. 1983); Lester v. Magic Chef, Inc., 230 Kan. 643, 645, 641 P.2d 353 (1982); see the comparative fault statute, K.S.A. 60-258a.

Kansas makes a dog owner responsible for injuries caused by “dog fright.” Henkel v. Jordan, 7 Kan. App. 2d 561, 644 P.2d 1348 (Kan.App.1982). In that case, the issue was whether the defendants could properly be held liable for personal injuries suffered by a plaintiff when, frightened by defendant’s “bouncy, pesky, yappy little dog,” he lost control of and fell from a bicycle. The dog owners had been put on notice by numerous individuals that the dog had frightened people who passed along the street. The court held that the facts could support a finding of negligence.