Hoosiers love dogs.
According to the most recent analysis conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Indiana has the 6th highest percentage of dog owners in the country.
Fortunately for U.S. Postal Workers and everyone else, the vast majority of dogs are friendly and don’t bite anything other than their chew toys. Nevertheless, dogs are animals and animals can be unpredictable.
So when a dog bites a person in Indiana, who’s liable?
Let’s take a look.
When it comes to dog bites, most states apply 1 of 2 rules:
Indiana applies the one-bite rule in most situations. Therefore, in most cases, a dog owner will only be held liable for damages related to a dog bite if the owner knew or should have known that the dog was likely to attack or bite others without being provoked.
This rule can be thought of as a negligence law in the sense that the court will attempt to determine whether the dog owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from injuring the plaintiff in light of the dog’s past. If the dog has been violent before, the court will likely determine that the owner was responsible for taking certain steps to prevent dog bites (such as putting a muzzle on the dog when in public).
However, Indiana adopted strict liability for certain cases involving government workers. Specifically, a dog owner is strictly liable for a dog bite if the dog bites a person who:
In certain situations, a dog owner may face criminal penalties for a dog bite.
A dog owner is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor if:
The owner can be convicted of a felony if the injuries result in death.
There are 3 primary defenses to a dog-bite claim that falls under the one-bite rule:
In a strict liability situation, dog owners are mostly limited to the following defenses:
Just like other premises liability lawsuits, a plaintiff in a dog bite lawsuit in Indiana can recover economic and non-economic damages, including:
If an individual is killed by a dog bite, the family of the deceased may be able to recover damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you’re bitten by a dog, safety should be your top priority. As a result, your first call should be to 9-1-1 if necessary. Once you’re safe, Indiana requires all animal bites to be reported to the local health department where the injured person lives.
Additionally, physicians are required by law to report all animal bites.
A dog may attack and injure a person without biting them. For example, a dog might knock a person to the ground, causing the person to strike their head on the pavement. In these situations, the dog bite statutes don’t apply. Nevertheless, the injured person can still receive damages by filing a negligence lawsuit against the dog owner.
Indiana’s dog bite statutes only apply to situations when a dog bites a person. If a dog bites your dog, you’ll need to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in order to recover the damages associated with the bite (vet expenses, etc.).
Under Indiana’s statute of limitations, you have 2 years to file a personal injury lawsuit, including those arising from dog bites and animal attacks.