If your pooch bites another person or animal, you could be held liable for the damages and losses caused by the accident. Continue reading to learn more about dog bite liability in Indiana, and who to talk to if you were recently injured in a dog attack.
Dog is “man’s best friend”; however, they are still animals, and real-life descendants of wild animals. This means that their behavior can be defensive and unpredictable at times. Even if your dog is well-behaved and has never bitten anyone before, they can still be capable of an attack, especially if they are provoked, frightened, or under certain duress.
As a dog owner, it is important to fully-understand your responsibility to prevent your pet from harming others. If your dog does cause injury to another person or pet, you could be faced with a personal injury claim or lawsuit; and if you do not have the proper insurance coverage, you could be forced to pay the settlement out of your personal funds.
State Liability Laws
Although they differ from state to state, most have established regulations and protocols pertaining to pet owner liability and dog attacks. A person’s liability as a pet owner will differ from case to case depending on many factors, including where they live and where the attack occurred. Overall, there are three fundamental types of legal principles that states have adopted to use in such cases. These include strict liability, one bite rule, and negligence.
Strict Liability – States like Michigan, New Jersey, and California follow the strict liability principle. This means that dog owners are 100% liable for any injuries, losses, and damages caused by their pet. There are virtually no exceptions to this rule, even if a dog has never attacked before and the pet owner took precautions to prevent attacks (fencing, gates, electric collars, warning signs, etc.). The only exceptions are circumstances of intrusion, provocation, or abuse.
One Dog Bite Rule – States like New York, Georgia, and Texas follow the “one dog bite” rule. This rule decrees that dog owners may not be fully-liable for injuries or damages caused by their dog if it was the first time their dog has ever bitten, and there was no reason to suspect that their dog was unsafe or aggressive. It is like a one-time “get out of jail free” card for a pet owner. However, there are many variables that influence a person’s liability under these circumstances, so they differ greatly from case to case. For instance, one exception to this rule could be if a pet owner was somehow negligent in connection to the attack.
Negligence – Every state has negligence laws that pertain to a person’s liability in the case that they cause harm to another person. If a person was negligent in some way, and as a result a person is injured, they can be held liable for any damages and losses caused by the accident. This can apply to dog bite attacks if a pet owner’s negligence gives their dog an opportunity to injure another person. For example, not adhering to local leash laws or failing to maintain the integrity of property fencing. Again, these cases vary greatly from state to state, and depend on a wide range of factors.
Indiana is a “One Dog Bite” State
In Indiana, the law follows a “one dog bite” rule, as well as a negligence rule. Under the first principle, dog owners may not be liable for any injuries, losses, and damages caused by their pet if there is no history of dog bites or attacks. However, if a pet owner exhibits negligence, and as a result, their dog bites someone, they could be held “strictly liable” for all the damages and losses incurred to the dog bite victim as a result of the accident, regardless if it was the first time the dog has ever bitten.
The Indiana Code 15-20-1-3 dictates that no matter what a dog’s history is, if it attacks or bites someone, the owner of the dog is entirely responsible for the accident, as well as, liable for the injured person’s losses and damages.
Were You a Recent Dog Bite Victim?
If you were recently attacked or bitten by a dog, contact a licensed Indianapolis personal injury lawyer right away. In Indiana, victims of personal injury accidents have two years from the time of the accident to legally make a claim and have a court hear their case. Be sure to act within this time-frame in order to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
What to Do After a Dog Attack:
➀ Obtain medical treatment for wounds.
➁ Get the names and contact information of the dog’s owners.
➂ Call the police and file a report.
➃ Decide if you need to seek mental health care for trauma.
➄ Call an Indianapolis personal injury law firm for legal representation.