Owning a pet can bring about a number of health benefits, ranging from decreased blood pressure to better mental health, and Americans are no stranger to sharing their homes with furry, scaly, or fuzzy friends. Indiana ranks 3rd in the United States for pet ownership and 6th in dog ownership, with at least 49.4% of households reporting at least one dog.
Unfortunately, sharing space with animals, even domesticated ones, opens us up to the possibility of injury and dog bite claims. While all animals can attack in the right circumstances, dogs, in particular, can bring about serious injuries.
A dog bite can cause harm and damage that last much longer than it takes for the bite to heal. Attacks by dogs can cause long-term physical and mental injuries that can impair a victim’s ability to function normally, including returning to a normal school or work schedule. For dog bite victims in Indianapolis, the consequences of a dog attack can be life-altering.
The Indianapolis dog bite attorneys of Poynter & Bucheri, LLC handle cases involving dog bites and dog attacks and can explain the Indiana dog bite laws to you. Our lawyers assist clients as they seek compensation for the injuries and damages caused by a dog bite.
If you have been injured in a dog attack or your child has suffered a dog bite injury, call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 for a free consultation with one of our Indiana dog bite attorneys. We can help you hold a negligent dog owner responsible for the damage caused by his or her dog.
Understanding Dog Bite Liability in Indiana
Many states have what is called a “one bite rule,” meaning that the dog’s owner is held liable if they knew the animal might act in a dangerous way; in other words, if the dog had previously bitten someone, their first bite was “free” and all bites after, the owner should know of their propensity for aggressive behavior. If a dog owner knew or should have known that their animal showed tendencies towards aggressive behavior, then they have been negligent by not taking action to prevent their dog injuring a person.
Perhaps because of this rule, many people believe that they cannot recover compensation for a dog bite injury unless they can prove that the dog is an aggressive breed or has a violent history. This assumption is not true. You can recover damages from being bitten by dogs, even if the dog has never shown aggressive tendencies or bitten anyone before biting you. According to Indiana’s modified comparative fault rule and the Indiana dog bite laws, an injured person may recover damages as long as they were less than 51% at fault for the attack.
Even so, under Indiana’s strict liability laws for dog owners, victims of dog bites do not need to prove the owner was negligent to recover damages in a dog bite injury claim. In many cases, the law is favorable to victims of dog bites, provided the victim did nothing to provoke the attack. For instance, a dog owner may be found liable for dog bite injury under Section 15-20-1-3 and Section 15-20-1-4 of Indiana Code if the following occur:
- The victim was acting peaceably and in no way provoking the dog to attack
- The victim was in a place they were required to be to see through a legal duty, such as carrying out police officers duties or delivering the mail
- The dog owner failed to take reasonable action to restrain the dog and keep it from injuring someone
- The dog was on someone else’s property
Even though the Indiana dog bite laws show liability favorable to victims, it does not mean that every dog bite injury claim is paid. Insurance companies may argue liability on behalf of their insured. Companies may also argue whether or not you suffered the damages you claim.
This is where an attorney with dog bite injury experience comes in. An Indianapolis dog bite injury attorney can help you file your personal injury claim seeing compensation for damages and to cover any medical bills. Our PBAR legal team understands how to fight denials of dog bite injury claims. We also ensure that your claim is not undervalued so that you can receive full compensation for all damages.
Talk to a PBAR Representative Right Now About Your Dog Bite Injury!
Defining Dog Ownership in Indiana
In Indiana, a dog owner is anyone who “possesses, keeps, or harbors a dog.”
In Marion County, dog owners are expected to follow ordinances overseen by Indianapolis Animal Care & Control. These ordinances include prohibiting animals at-large, requirements for permanent animal identification, animal curbing requirements, prohibiting animal nuisance, and requirements that protect animal welfare and treatment.
While some cities in Indiana may have breed-specific laws, Indianapolis does not, despite attempts in the past to pass ordinances restricting ownership of some breeds, such as pit bulls. This means that it is not against the law to own any dog breeds in Indianapolis. However, some apartment complexes, condos, or neighborhood homeowner associations may have rules banning pets over a certain weight or prohibit certain breeds.
If you or a loved one suffers a dog bite injury in a residential area, check with that neighborhood association or complex supervisor to see if the dog owner was breaching their contract.
We encourage you to contact Poynter & Bucheri, LLC by calling 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 for a no-cost, no-obligation case review with an Indiana dog bite attorney. We want to help you recover the compensation you deserve for the injuries and damages caused by a dog attack.
Most Common Indiana Dog Breeds
The three most popular dog breeds in Indiana are
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
In 2017, The Indianapolis Star noted that the annual mega-adoption event held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which sees animals from approximately 25 area shelters up for adoption, showcased the following breeds most commonly for rescue:
- Pit Bull
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
While there is certainly some room for variance in these numbers, they do reveal that many Hoosiers own large breeds. Adult German Shepherds can weigh up to 90 pounds and reach a height of 26 inches tall, and the American Kennel Club notes that early socialization and obedience training is essential for maintaining manners in this breed. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are willing or able to invest the time and money that their chosen breed may require; puppy training classes in Indianapolis can cost anywhere from $150 for a 6 week group class to $75 an hour for at-home training, a cost akin to top-rate private tutoring for a school-aged child.
We certainly do not want to promote breed prejudice, but larger breed dogs, if aggressive, are more likely to cause serious injuries when attacking than smaller breeds--plain and simple. The popularity of large breed dogs in Indiana means that the possibility of dog bites may be higher than in other states. In 2016, State Farm ranked Indiana 8th in the United States for dog bite injury claims.
Most Common Dog Bite Injuries
Injuries sustained from a dog attack can vary from minor to serious. Some of the most common injuries from dogs are:
A dog bite will result in the tearing of the skin, as will a dog’s nails as it delivers its bite. Dog bite victims often suffer multiple lacerations from attempting to shield and protect themselves.
- Muscle, Tendon, and Nerve Damage
Dogs will bite deeply into soft tissue, and their powerful jaws can cause muscle, tendon, and nerve damage. This damage can be exacerbated by a dog that won’t let go after a bite and will instead attempt to shake the victim repeatedly.
Victims often suffer painful, unsightly bruising as the result of dog attacks and bites a person.
- Disfigurement and Scarring
In 2019, 26,906 individuals had dog bite repair reconstructive surgery. Even with surgery, dog bite victims can suffer disfigurement and extensive scarring from their injuries.
- Broken Bones
Hand, arm, foot, leg, back, and neck bones can be among those broken when a dog attacks.
- Spinal Cord, Head, and Neck Injuries
Dogs will often attempt to center their bites a person on the neck and face, thus causing extensive damage to this vulnerable location.
- Vision and Hearing Loss
Dog bites a person to the face and head can result in temporary or permanent loss of vision or hearing in the affected area.
- Bacterial Infection
According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States, and almost 1 out of every 5 of those bites will become infected.
- Rabies Exposure
According to the CDC, the number of rabid dogs increased from 2017 to 2018; up to 9% of all rabid animal cases reported in the United States are from domestic animals.
- Psychological Trauma/PTSD
Many victims of dog bites will relive the attack while suffering from post-traumatic stress, and may develop phobias after, such as to dogs or animals, to the location of the event, or activity they were doing when the attack occurred.
Children are especially vulnerable to dog bite injuries, being both smaller and less able to read a dog’s anti-social or territorial behavior. Because of this, 42% of all fatal dog bite injuries in 2018 were children. For adults, 71% of fatal attacks occurred to victims aged 50 or older.
Our Indianapolis dog bite lawyers can help you through the stressful and emotional aftermath of a dog bite. Call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 now to speak with a legal professional about your case. You do not have to deal with the dog owner or insurance adjuster. The PBAR legal team will handle all aspects of the claim so that you can focus on your health and your recovery.
You can also chat with a representative 24/7 online to get the help you need now!
Protect Your Legal Rights by Contacting an Indiana Dog Bite Injury Attorney
The law may be on your side; however, insurance companies do not care. They want to pay as little as possible to settle your claim or deny your claim outright. We want to stop insurance companies from causing you further emotional stress and injury.
If you have suffered a dog attack, you may have to go through the following costly treatments to attend to your injuries, even years after the date of attack:
If you suffer from a serious dog bite injury, you may require hospitalization. Dogs that are rabid could spread the disease to you, and dog bites themselves are susceptible to bacterial infection. Head, spinal, and neck injuries, as well as extensive fracturing or internal damage, may require overnight monitoring in addition to surgery.
- Reconstructive surgeries
Due to the fact that facial injuries can often be extensive in dog bite cases, reconstructive surgery is often required. In addition, plastic surgeries may be pursued to restore a victim’s features.
- Physical therapy
Injuries from dog bites can result in the need for physical therapy, especially when muscles, tendons, and bones were damaged.
The emotional, psychological trauma of a dog bite injury can be just as damaging as the physical injuries. Some victims may require an anti-anxiety and depressant regimen in addition to counseling sessions and trauma therapy.
- Prescription pain medication
The pain from dog bite injuries can extend well past the attack itself and initial recovery period. Healing may occur slowly over weeks, months, or years, and may require prescription pain medication to dull the severity of pain the victim feels.
We encourage you to contact the law firm of Poynter & Bucheri, LLC by calling 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 for a no-cost, no-obligation free case review with an Indiana dog bite attorney. We want to help you recover the compensation you deserve for the injuries and damages caused by a dog attack.