Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dog Bite Laws in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
- Page 1
What will happen to the dog?
In most cases, nothing will happen to the dog except that it might be quarantined for a few days (frequently at the dog owner's home). However, if the attack is exceptionally brutal, or other conditions are met, the local animal control authority or court may issue orders requiring that the dog be confined or destroyed.
I was severely bitten by a dog. What should I do?
Foremost, seek medical attention immediately, as the possibility of infection, including rabies and other diseases, must be attended to and treated as soon as possible after the attack. After the dog bite victim’s injuries have been treated, the process of seeking compensation for the injuries and losses suffered can be explored.
Should I report the dog bite?
Yes. The dog attack or dog bite should be reported to your local animal control center and/or police department as soon as you seek medical attention. Make sure to note the date of the report and the name of the person you spoke with.
Should I Take Photographs?
Yes. It is extremely important that you take photographs of your injuries and the accident location, if possible. As well, an attorney with Keller and Keller will take additional photographs of our clients’ injuries to properly document the full extent of the injuries and wounds. Further, if it is possible, take photographs of the attacking dog, but for no reason should you place yourself at risk to do this.
What is the Indiana dog bite statute?
15-5-12-1 Dog bite liability
Sec. 1. If a dog, without provocation, bites any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he may be required to go for the purpose of discharging any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States of America, the owner of such dog may be held liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.
Which Dog Breeds Are Most Likely to Bite?
At least 25 different dog breeds have been responsible for dog-bite-related fatalities, although more than half have been caused by pit bulls and rottweilers. German Shepherds and Huskies are also responsible for a large percentage of dog bites. Though these dogs are commonly involved in attacks, they are not at all exclusive offenders. The following list provides the names of additional breeds that have often been linked to aggressive behavior:
Potentially Aggressive Breeds:
- Llasa Apso: can be cranky with kids
- Toy poodles: bite out of self defense
- Dachsunds: not very patient
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks: very dominant breed
- Miniature Pinschers: "big dog" mindset in little body
- Pekinese: intolerant
- Chihuahuas: prefer adults, not tolerant of kids
- Chow Chow: one-person dogs, bite without warning
- Giant Schnauzers: very dominant breed, will even challenge adults
- Old English Sheep Dog: very protective of owner
- Cocker Spaniel: very protective of owner
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.
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.
What is the average settlement of a dog bite case?
It is not possible to state an average settlement, as the amount of the settlement depends on several variables such as medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of wages, costs associated with plastic surgery, the possibility of psychological counseling, etc.
I am the victim of a dog bite and the owner of the dog asked me to sign something from his insurance company, should I sign it?
No document should ever be signed in connection with a pending or potential legal claim without counsel from a knowledgeable attorney. Documents prepared by insurance companies that require the signature of the victim often contain “release” language, which, if signed by the victim, may effectively eliminate the right to seek compensation for the injuries and losses they are legally entitled to recover as a result of the dog bite. While some insurance documents may simply seek legal “authorization” on the part of the insurance company to obtain the victim’s medical records and bills, such documents are often lengthy and filled with legal terminology which make them difficult to understand except by experienced attorneys. For this reason, it is always prudent to have any document sent to you by any third party, including an insurance company, in connection with a claim for personal injury, reviewed by a reputable attorney before signing it. The law offices of Keller and Keller will advise you of your legal rights in regard to such matters free of charge.
Why should I contact a lawyer? Can't I just deal with the insurance company on my own?
A victim seeking compensation from an insurance company without the benefit of experienced legal counsel places the claimant at a distinct disadvantage in the negotiating process. Insurance companies would prefer to resolve claims with victims who have yet to consult with an attorney, and the reason for this is obvious: a dog bite victim who is represented by a an experienced law office will generally receive a more just recovery than those paid to victims who represent themselves. The claims process and the laws that guarantee the rights of injured people to be compensated for injuries caused by the negligence of others are technically complex. To assume that the legal process can be successfully navigated by persons lacking any formal legal training is a mistake which should be avoided.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Every Case Is Different
While every dog bite case has common factors, the length of time each case takes is different. The length of time an average dog bite case takes is highly dependent upon the nature and severity of the injuries and how long our client has to be under the care of a doctor. It is very important for people injured by dog bites to follow their doctor’s treatment plan until they have reached their maximum recovery. Especially in dog bite cases, it may take several months of healing before the extent of scarring can be revealed and the next steps in treatment, such as skin grafts and plastic surgery, can be discussed.
It is important to not settle a case prior to having evaluated the full extent of permanent scars and scar revision. This allows your attorney to better recover for the full extent of your damages. For this reason, it may take many months to even be able to obtain all of a client’s medical records.
The bottom line is that there is no fixed time associated with the successful conclusion of a dog bite case. Therefore, hiring an experienced dog bite lawyer is important.
How are damages calculated in dog bite cases?
Evaluating dog bite cases is complex and there are many factors that determine the value of your unique case. Some of the main determining factors include: (1) the severity of your particular physical injury, (2) your medical expenses, (3) lost income or earnings, (4) pain and suffering and (5) future injuries, including scaring and scar revision surgery.
The Severity of Your Injury
When looking at the severity of your physical injury it is important to discover the nature of your total injury and whether the injury will cause or will likely cause disfigurement. This will take time as you heal after an attack. Often, a dog bite injury needs to heal for at least several months before a physician can determine whether scarring will be severe or permanent. This is important because of the cosmetic nature of dog bite injuries. Cosmetic surgeries and treatments to help with scarring or disfigurement are almost never covered by health insurance, so this is our only opportunity to recover money for you to pay for any future treatment or surgery.
Also important in determining the value of your case are your past and future medical expenses. This includes first aid, ambulance, emergency room, hospital admissions, medications, plastic surgery, psychological counseling, future scar revision procedures, and future medications in the case that your pain becomes chronic, etc.
You may also recover lost wages or lost earnings in the future if you are permanently impaired. If your child is a victim of a dog bite attack, you may recover lost wages for the time you take off work to care for them. This includes recovery for benefits like sick time or disability time that would not have otherwise been taken.
Pain and Suffering
The final primary component determining the value of your claim is your pain in suffering. You may recover for the pain you experienced from your injuries. This is another factor which will likely reveal itself over time during your recovery. Recovery for pain includes the severity of your pain and the duration of pain you experienced or continue to experience. Suffering includes the emotional trauma of the attack, the anxiety you now may experience around dogs or in public places, the humiliation and emotional distress of any disfigurement or scarring, and time and inconvenience of going to your doctor visits.
If all appropriate conditions of liability are proven, the victim can receive compensation for all of the following things:
- Any resulting physical injury and personal disfigurement;
- Medical treatment such as first aid, emergency room, medications, hospital and ambulance;
- Anticipated medical treatment for scar reduction, i.e., plastic surgery;
- Psychological counseling to overcome the emotional trauma of the attack; fear of dogs, fear of being in public, and the emotional distress of disfigurement;
- Loss of earnings from work or the victim's business;
- Torn clothing and broken glasses
Request Free Consultation
"At every juncture of the process... everyone involved, were more than thorough. I never had any questions. It was just matter of fact, straight to the point, and taken care of."by Jill S.
Dog Bite Checklist
What to Do if You're Attacked
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Take photographs of the wounds
- Call 911 or animal control to report the incident
- Take photographs of the dog (if it's safe to do so)
- Gather information about the dog owner (name, address, phone number, insurance info)
- Contact an experienced dog bite attorney