Your Questions About Indiana Dog Bite Lawsuits Answered
Canines are considered man’s best friend for a reason—they’re affectionate, loving, and fun to have around. Unfortunately, there have been more than a few instances of dogs not behaving in the correct way. A dog bite is a serious form of attack that could leave you permanently scarred.
What steps do you take following a dog bite? Should you consider a lawsuit? How can filing a personal injury claim help?
Stewart & Stewart is here to answer all of your questions about Indiana dog bite lawsuits. We have represented many victims of dog bite attacks over the years and want to share our expertise so that you can be prepared in the event of an injury.
About Indiana Dog Bite Lawsuits
Every state in the country has its own rules for situations involving animals, like canines. For example, many jurisdictions make leash laws mandatory to try and prevent random dog bites.
If you are attacked by a dog, you have options for seeking justice. Victims of dog bites often file a personal injury claim to pursue damages for missed time from work, medical expenses, and emotional damages.
Indiana follows the dog bite statute Section 15-20-1-3 of the Indiana Code. According to the dog bite statute in Indiana, a dog owner is potentially liable for dog bites:
- If the person who was bitten did not provoke the dog, and
- The person who was bitten was in a place where he or she was required to carry out a legal duty or responsibility.
The statute only applies to situations in which a dog bites a mail carrier, police officer, or another individual carrying out duties under state, federal, or U.S. postal law. Unfortunately, the statute does not cover situations involving ordinary private citizens who are attacked by someone else’s canine.
However, an ordinary citizen may file a personal injury claim based on Indiana’s “one bite” rule.
Indiana’s “One Bite” Rule
Those who do not work for the U.S. Postal Service or a state/federal government agency are not protected under Section 15-20-1-3. However, ordinary private citizens may still file a personal injury claim under the state’s “one bite” rule.
The Indiana “one bite” rule stipulates that a victim may sue the owner of a dog that bit the victim for damages related to the attack. Consequently, the victim may sue for damages like medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering.
It’s worth noting that the dog owner is generally only held liable in a court of law if the owner knew (or should have known) that the dog was likely to bite or act aggressively. Otherwise, it is sometimes difficult in Indiana to receive a favorable outcome in civil court.
Despite some obstacles, the “one bite” rule in Indiana is sometimes transferable with the “negligence” rule. In other words, the court may examine whether the dog owner acted negligently instead of whether he or she was knowledgeable about the canine’s potentially aggressive behavior.
Can You Charge a Dog Owner With a Criminal Offense in a Dog Attack?
A dog owner may be charged with a crime in Indiana in certain scenarios. For example, Section 15-20-1-3 of the Indiana Code indicates that an owner may be convicted of a misdemeanor if:
- The dog’s owner “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally failed” to take reasonable care to restrain the canine.
- The canine went into someone else’s property without their approval.
- The owner failed to restrain the dog, the canine “bit or attacked another person without provocation,” and caused injuries.
Furthermore, a dog owner can be convicted of a felony if the dog attack leads to death.
How Long Do I Have To File a Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim?
Indiana’s statute of limitations allows you two years to file a personal injury claim from the point of the dog bite/dog attack. The rules are a little different for minors, as children have until their eighth birthday.
The major exception is if a parent or guardian does not notice the adverse health effects of the attack until after an eighth birthday. In this situation, you may still be able to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired.
Should I Pursue the “One Bite” Rule or “Negligence” Rule in Indiana for a Dog Bite?
It depends on the situation. Post office workers, police officers, and other government officials have legal backing from Section 15-20-1-3. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens have more trouble pursuing justice through the “one bite” rule because of state law.
On the other hand, they may be able to prove that the dog owner acted negligently even if the owner was not aware of the dog having an aggressive personality. Speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Stewart & Stewart can help you pinpoint the best avenue to pursue.
Get Help With Your Dog Bite Case
We hope that this article answered some of your questions about Indiana dog bite laws and personal injury cases. If you have further questions or would like to discuss your potential case, we encourage you to reach out to Stewart & Stewart as soon as possible.