The state of Indiana, much like the rest of the country, wrestles with a significant number of dog bite incidents each year, and we hear a lot of these cases at our law firm. Such accidents, whether with familiar pets or unfamiliar animals, can result in serious injuries, emotional trauma, and occasionally, tragic fatalities that also represent a significant economic burden.
But to protect its citizens, the state of Indiana has enacted laws specific to dog bites that can help you hold dog owners accountable if they suffered injuries in an attack.
Today, we’ll share the most important aspects of the dog bite laws to help you protect your right and seek economic compensation as you deserve.
The Basics: Indiana’s Dog Bite Statute
Indiana’s primary law concerning dog bites is outlined in Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3. This statute says that if a dog, without provocation, bites a person who is acting peaceably and is in a location where they’re legally allowed to be, the dog’s owner could be held liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten.
Interestingly, Indiana’s law on dog bites is a “strict liability” statute. This means that the dog’s owner may be held liable for injuries even if they were not aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies or didn’t show negligence in controlling the animal.
Exceptions and the Scope of Liability
While the Indiana dog bite law provides protection, there are notable exceptions. The law primarily applies when the dog is not confined or restrained, and the bite causes injury.
It is also important to note that if the victim was provoking the dog or unlawfully on the owner’s property, the owner may not be held responsible for the damages. For a comprehensive understanding of your case, seeking guidance from a local dog bite lawyer can help you determine negligence.
Landlord Liability in Dog Bite Cases
In some circumstances, Indiana law extends the liability of dog bite incidents to landlords. A landlord could potentially be held liable if they were aware of a tenant’s dog being a danger to others and did nothing to mitigate the threat.
This legal responsibility is particularly applicable if the landlord maintains control over the area where the dog bite incident transpired. Such intricacies can be essential for individuals residing in rental properties and are further enclosed within the scope of premises liability laws in Indiana.
Comparative Fault in Dog Bite Incidents
In personal injury cases, including dog bites, Indiana employs a “comparative fault” system as per the Indiana Comparative Fault Act. If the injured party is partially responsible for the incident, such as by provoking the dog, any compensation awarded could be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Implications of Severe Injuries and Wrongful Death
Regrettably, some dog bite incidents can cause severe injuries or even be fatal for the victim in the worst situations.
In such cases, families may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim under Indiana’s wrongful death statutes (Indiana Code § 34-23-1-1).
This statute enables a representative of the deceased, typically a close family member, to seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of the deceased person’s earnings, and the emotional trauma associated with such a tragic loss.
Understanding Indiana’s dog bite laws is essential when dealing with a dog bite incident, especially if you plan to file a dog attack claim to seek compensation.
If that’s your case, consulting with a local personal injury attorney is often the best course of action when navigating the complexities of Indiana’s dog bite laws. At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, we’re committed to offering guidance and support to those affected by such incidents. Get in touch with our team and receive the legal advice you need to pursue a successful claim.