Yes, Indiana law permits lawsuits against dog owners when the dog bites or otherwise injures someone. You can pursue the following damages in such a case:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
However, Indiana does have a “one bite” rule, meaning you must show that the owner knew or should have known that their dog was aggressive.
We’ll explain how to prove an Indiana dog bite case, the process for filing a dog bite case, and the role of insurance companies.
Proving Your Indiana Dog Bite Case
Indiana’s one bite rule makes winning a dog bite injury case slightly more challenging than in other states. To prove that the dog’s owner is liable for your injuries, you must prove that the owner was negligent in preventing your injuries.
To do so, you can demonstrate that the dog had attacked or bitten someone else or acted aggressively. Proving prior aggression shows the courts that the owner should have taken additional measures to protect others from the dog’s aggressive behaviors.
In some situations, dog bite cases are not just civil cases, but criminal cases as well. Indiana Code Section 15-20-1-4 outlines that the dog’s owner could be guilty of a misdemeanor in the following scenarios:
- The owner “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally failed” to restrain the dog properly
- The dog was on someone else’s property
- The dog owner’s failure to restrain the dog led the animal to bite another person without provocation
However, criminal cases against the dog’s owner will not provide you financial coverage for the damages you sustain from a dog bite. You still need to file a civil case.
Process for Filing a Dog Bite Case in Indiana
An important thing to keep in mind when considering a dog bite claim is that you have two years from the date of the injury to file your case. You should not delay in discussing the matter with an attorney to make sure you file within the statute of limitations.
After experiencing a dog bite or attack, you should take these important steps:
- Call 9-1-1 if your injuries are severe. You must protect your wellbeing and seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further damage. If the bite is not severe, go to urgent care or your doctor as soon as possible.
- Contact an Indiana dog bite lawyer. An attorney will ask you questions about the incident to help you determine whether you have a case against the animal’s owner. Attorneys are skilled at gathering evidence and proving the animal’s prior aggressive behavior to build a case.
- Provide all documentation related to the incident to your attorney. This includes relevant medical records and your account of what happened. If there were any witnesses, you should provide your attorney with their contact information as well.
- Work with your attorney to file all relevant paperwork with your local courts to begin your civil lawsuit against the dog’s owner.
The Role of Insurance Companies in Dog Bite Cases
Dog owners should carry dog bite liability insurance either through their homeowners or renters insurance policy, an umbrella policy or a standalone canine liability policy.
The minimum coverage that dog owners should carry is $100,000 in liability coverage and $1,000 in no-fault medical payments. However, the dog owner might have even more liability coverage than these recommended minimums.
An attorney knows the ins and outs of liability insurance. Working with a personal injury attorney will ensure that you have the best possible outcome for your case and recover the financial damages required to cover the financial hardships you encountered due to the dog bite or attack.
Stewart & Stewart provides a team of expert attorneys skilled in dog bite cases. Our free consultation makes it easy to get a full case evaluation to better understand how to proceed in your case.