Indiana law on dog bites is referred to as the “one bite” rule. The law states that owners are negligent if their dog attacks or bites someone after the owner knew or should have known that the dog was prone to attack.
People refer to it as the one-bite rule because in most cases, the owner is not liable for the dog’s first attack or bite so long as they were acting in good faith.
There is a caveat to the law in that it does not apply to mail carriers, law enforcement, or other individuals carrying out local, state, or federal duties. In these situations, dog owners are liable regardless of whether their dog had shown the likelihood of attacking in the past.
Criminal Charges for Dog Owner Negligence
In addition to being liable for a victim’s medical bills, dog owners can also face criminal charges. These include Class C misdemeanor charges with up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
The law also outlines steps that a dog owner should take to protect the general public from a dog.
- The owner must take reasonable steps to restrain the dog
- The dog should not enter another person’s property
- Despite these provisions and without provocation, the dog attacks another person causing bodily injury
Two defenses the dog owner will likely try to make if you’re pressing charges for a dog bite is that the victim provoked the dog or that the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property.
Hiring a good dog bite attorney can be the difference between winning and losing a case because your attorney can prove that these defense strategies are unfounded.
Can I Sue for a Dog Bite in Indiana?
Yes, in addition to pressing charges against the dog owner and causing them to face criminal charges, you can also sue the dog owner to recover damages you’ve incurred as a result.
A criminal case will not help you pay your medical bills or recover physically from the attack. For those reasons, you might consider a civil case (lawsuit). Criminal and civil cases can move forward independently of one another. That means that even if the courts find the dog owner not guilty of criminal charges due to their negligence, you could still win a civil case.
When pursuing a lawsuit for a dog bite in Indiana, you can pursue the following damages.
- Medical bills
- Missed work or changes to employment due to the dog bite injuries
- Future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
Much like in the criminal case, you’ll need to prove that you did not provoke the dog into attacking you and that you were not trespassing on the dog owner’s property at the time of the attack.
How Do I Pay for Medical Bills After a Dog Bite?
After suffering any form of injury, the most important thing you should focus on is making a full recovery. This starts with seeking high-quality medical care immediately.
If your injuries are severe, you should call an ambulance to get to a hospital as soon as possible. Otherwise, you should get medical treatment quickly, even if you drive yourself to the closest urgent care or emergency room.
Once you’ve gotten the care you need, the questions about paying for that treatment can start to creep in. You can put the care under your health insurance coverage to aid in offsetting the costs of treatment. However, this will still leave you with co-pays and deductibles.
You can also open a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy. Only if the insurance company refuses to pay your bills or challenges your claim will you need to file a lawsuit.
Most people have never had to deal with the challenges of a dog bite. If you’re wondering how to get your bills paid and how to recover from the incident, schedule a free consultation with Stewart & Stewart. We’ll offer valuable insights to put you on the road to recovery.