A dog attack is one of the scariest things you can experience. They often happen in the blink of an eye when you have no time to react or find safety. Dog attacks cause serious, life-altering injuries and permanent scarring.
After an animal attack, victims are left trying to recover, even as they face expensive medical bills, reconstructive surgeries, disfigurement, and lost wages from missed work. Children are commonly victims of dog attacks, which affect the whole family and can alter the course of the child’s life.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a dog attack in Indianapolis, seeking legal representation may be your best course of action. A dog bite lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve from a negligent dog owner.
Dog Bite Laws and Liability in Indiana
Indiana’s dog bite laws are designed to protect Hoosiers from animal attacks. Indiana’s strict liability statute means that when a dog attacks someone who was legally on the property carrying out a duty (such as delivering the mail or reading a gas meter), its owner is liable for damages even if there were no previous signs of aggressive behavior from the animal.
For other dog bite victims, the state determines if there was any negligence involved on the part of the owner. If the owner was negligent, then they can be held responsible for damages.
Determining liability after a dog bite
To determine liability after any personal injury in Indiana, four main things must be true:
- The dog owner had a duty of care to do something or not do something. For example, if someone owns a dog that has a history of aggression, they may have a duty of care to keep their dog leashed, fenced, or kept inside.
- The dog owner breached their duty of care by failing to uphold their responsibility to the injured party. If the duty of care was to keep the dog restrained, a breach of duty may have been taking the dog to a dog park and letting them run around off-leash.
- The breach of duty caused harm to the victim. An off-leash, potentially dangerous dog that doesn’t bite anyone has not caused any harm. But if that dog does attack someone and injures them, then harm has been done.
- The harm has led to damages. Those damages can be both financial and non-financial. It is rare that dog bites are without damages, so this requirement is almost always met.
Examples of negligent behaviors of dog owners
There are so many ways that a dog owner could meet all four of these qualifications for negligence.
A dog owner could:
- fail to properly restrain their dog or keep it confined when they know that it has displayed aggressive behavior or past biting tendencies
- allow their dog to run loose without supervision, including in public areas like sidewalks or parks
- disregard leash laws
- fail to fix broken fences
- fail to post warnings (“Beware of Dog” signs) on their property if they have a dog with past incidents of territorial behavior or biting
- not inform visitors about potential risks
- improperly train their dog
Other legal issues for owners of attacking dogs in Indianapolis
In addition to negligence and liability issues, a few more Indiana laws may affect the owner of a dog who attacked you.
For example, an owner can face criminal charges, including felonies, for failing to restrain their dog from going to another property and attacking a person. You can still file a civil case against the owner even if they are being charged with a crime.
Dogs can be impounded if there is probable cause that their owner violated any state laws.
Lastly, vets and hospitals have to report dog bites to their local health department within 72 hours.
Can the attack victim be liable for their own injuries?
Yes, a dog attack victim can be found liable for the injuries they suffered, if they were harassing the dog or illegally trespassing on the property of the dog’s owner.
A judge or jury can find that the dog’s owner and the victim each share some responsibility for the attack. If that is the case, Indiana’s comparative negligence statute states that as long as the injured party is less than 50% responsible for the attack, they can seek compensation.
Getting Compensation for Injuries Caused by a Dog Attack
When filing a personal injury claim, including a dog bite claim, you can document your losses and damages to pursue appropriate compensation. This includes both financial and non-economic losses, as dog attacks cause both.
Compensation claims routinely request:
- Medical expenses: Emergency treatment, transport by ambulance, emergency surgery, medications, occupational or physical therapy, reconstructive surgery, etc.
- Lost wages: Time you were forced to take off work or lost potential earnings from losing a job or being unable to work at the same level as before
- Scarring and disfigurement: Non-monetary damages associated with long-term or permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering: Non-monetary damages associated with physical and emotional pain and suffering, including PTSD
- Loss of normal life, consortium, or enjoyment of life: The impact of your injuries on your day-to-day life and relationships
Steps to Take After a Dog Attack in Indianapolis
If you or a loved one has been injured by an attacking dog, you can take steps to protect your rights.
Report the incident
If you were injured severely enough to need medical treatment, your doctor or the emergency room staff will provide you with the required paperwork, which they must submit to the local health department within 72 hours.
Reporting the incident is important because it creates a document of the attack, which you can later use as evidence.
Additionally, it creates a paper trail for the animal that attacked you. Think about it this way: if the dog that attacked you has already had a bite report filed on them in the past, it is a lot easier for you to demonstrate negligence!
Finally, if you were attacked by a rabid or sick dog, this report can be used to prevent dangerous diseases from spreading between animals and people.
Seek medical care
Dog bites usually need medical care because of their severity. You may experience lacerations, puncture wounds, crushing injuries from a strong bite, nerve damage, scarring, and a serious risk of infection.
You may not realize how severe your injuries are until you seek medical attention.
Document your injuries
In addition to seeking medical care, you must document your injuries. This includes photos, videos, and statements from medical providers.
The more that you can document, the better. Don’t just take pictures immediately after the accident, but rather, take photos consistently as you heal. If you require additional surgeries, document the results of those surgeries.
Preserve the evidence
Documenting your medical evidence is important, but it is also important to record all other types of evidence.
For example, you may be able to get photos or videos of the attack from nearby security cameras. In the immediate aftermath of the attack or afterward, you may be able to collect video or photo evidence of how the attack occurred.
Eyewitness statements, expert testimonies, and communication with the dog’s owner can all play an important role in a legal claim against the owner.
Consult a dog bite lawyer
A dog bite lawyer will advocate for you and your rights in the aftermath of a dog attack.
Not only will your attorney know the ins and outs of Indiana’s dog bite laws, but they will also know how to collect evidence and put together a strong case regarding the liability of the dog’s owner. They will also anticipate common defenses and plan to respond to them.
Your attorney also knows how to maximize your compensation so that you receive as much as possible for your injuries.
FAQs About Dog Bite Claims in Indianapolis
These are some of the frequently asked questions we hear about dog bites.
How long do I have to file a dog bite claim?
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for all personal injury lawsuits is 2 years from the event. This is the same for dog attacks. A minor victim may have more time to file, but speak to an attorney to find out more.
How long do dog bite cases take?
Personal injury lawsuits can take up to a few years to resolve, especially if they go all the way to court. If a settlement is negotiated so that a trial can be avoided, the case is usually shorter. It may only last a few months.
How much compensation can I get for a dog attack?
Unfortunately, this question can only be answered by someone who has direct knowledge of your specific situation, your injuries, and the causes of the attack. However, dog bite victims are often able to receive compensation that covers their medical costs as well as their non-monetary losses like pain and suffering.
Yosha Law Firm – Ready to Defend Your Rights After a Dog Attack in Indy
The physical, emotional, and financial toll of a dog attack should not be underestimated or brushed aside. Indiana law provides protections for victims to pursue fair compensation from a negligent owner. However, the process can seem daunting, especially when coupled with recovery from traumatic injuries.
An experienced attorney levels the playing field and handles the legal complexities so victims can focus on healing. At Yosha Law Firm, our attorneys have successfully represented numerous dog bite victims over decades of practice.
We approach every case with compassion while vigorously advocating for your rights. If you or a loved one has suffered because of an unrestrained dog, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. Together, we will determine the best way forward, whether resolving matters efficiently out of court or taking your case to trial.
With an attorney by your side providing skilled guidance, you don’t have to endure this alone. Contact us for a free case consultation today.