Does it matter where the dog bite occurred?

Does It Matter If I Was on Public or Private Property?

The question of whether the bite occurred on public or private property isn’t as important as determining who the dog owner is and whether or not that person or company has insurance to pursue.

Regardless of where the dog bite incident takes place, the dog owner has a duty to keep their dog under reasonable care and control at all times. Sometimes, even people or companies who do not own the dog, can be held liable if the dog was under their care and control at the time of the bite, and if they knew that the dog was mean or vicious. This includes individuals taking care of friends’ or families’ dogs and landlords who allow dangerous animals onto their property. Even if the bite takes place on public property, like a sidewalk, street, or park, the dog owner or the person caring for the dog at the time of the bite, will be held liable and their personal insurance will be pursued.

Pet Containment Systems

Electronic dog fences and other pet containment systems have become very popular and are often being used in place of traditional wooden or iron fences. These fences may keep dogs inside of a defined area, but they do not keep people out. Neighborhood children are most at risk because these fences do not keep children from approaching the animals within the fence. Even if a bite takes place within an electronic fence, the dog owner may still be held liable.

Landlord Liability

If a renter’s dog bites another person, and the renter does not have their own renter’s insurance, the victim can possibly pursue the landlord if the landlord both knew about the animal and its dangerous tendencies, and the landlord could have eliminated the danger by having the animal removed.

Dog Groomers, Veterinarians, and Pet Hotels

Companies such as veterinaries, pet hotels and dog grooming facilities, which do not own the dog, but have the dog under their care and control, may also be held liable if they knew that the dog was vicious but still allowed it to come into contact with the victim.

Bites at Dog Parks

Owners often let their dogs off-leash in dog parks. Dog parks are a great place for dog owners to take their dogs, however, aggressive, unruly, and feisty dogs do not belong in dog parks. Often times, people are injured by dog fights that take place in dog parks. Though negligence may be more difficult to prove, dog parks are not “zones of immunity” for dog owners and their dangerous dogs.

Lawsuits Against Local Government

A dog bite victim will not likely prevail on a claim against a local government who established a dog park or other community dog center. There are immunities that protect the government and unless the government fails to enforce its own rules and regulations, they will not be held liable. 

Dog owners are required to control/restrain their animal in order to ensure public safety. The dog owner may be held responsible if you are on public property or if you are legally on private property. Should you have any question about the liability in a dog attack, our offices will gladly speak with you to best advise you of your legal rights.

Regardless of the size, severity, or complexity of your dog bite claim, contacting an Indianapolis dog bite lawyer at Keller & Keller's St. Joseph office connects you with one of the state's most experienced personal injury law firms.