After a dog bite attack, moreover the physical pain and emotional distress, victims are often burdened with an additional worry: “Who will pay for the damages?” Medical bills can pile up quickly, and when coupled with the potential loss of wages due to injury, the financial consequences of a dog bite can be substantial.
Fortunately, in the state of Indiana, legal provisions clearly lay out the rules regarding the liability for these expenses. This blog post dives into these laws, giving clarity to victims regarding the path to compensation.
Identifying the Responsible Party
Sadly, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, most of them children. And to hold responsible parties accountable, Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3 states that the dog’s owner is generally liable for the damages caused by their pet. The law applies if:
- The victim was acting peaceably
- The victim was lawfully on the owner’s property
It’s important to note that prior aggressive behavior of the dog is not a precondition for owner liability. Indiana law rightfully emphasizes victim protection, ensuring that you have legal recourse, irrespective of the dog’s past behavior.
The Role of Insurance Companies
In most cases, the owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy might cover the damages caused by a dog bite.
However, coverage might vary according to the policy’s specific conditions and even the breed of the dog. The Insurance Information Institute provides insightful data on this matter, which can be of great help for victims looking to understand their possible compensation.
Exceptions to Owner Liability
Understanding the nuances of liability in dog bite cases is crucial, especially as it isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. While Indiana law generally places responsibility on the dog’s owner, there are certain exceptions that can potentially absolve the owner of liability.
These exceptions come into play when specific circumstances are present at the time of the attack. It’s essential to be aware of these exceptions to fully comprehend the complexity of a dog bite case, and they include:
- Provocation: If there is evidence that the victim provoked the dog in some way, leading to the attack, then the owner may not be held liable. Provocation could include teasing, hitting, or harming the dog, or making it feel threatened in some way.
- Trespassing or Criminal Activity: If the victim was committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the owner’s property, the owner’s liability could be negated. This exception is based on the principle that a person who is engaged in illegal activity at the time of the injury generally forfeits their right to seek compensation for any injuries sustained.
- Crime Against a Person: Similarly, if the victim was committing or attempting to commit a crime against any person, not necessarily the dog owner, the owner might be absolved of liability for the dog bite.
This is where the expertise of a dog bite lawyer becomes crucial, as these situations can quickly become complex, and determining liability may involve an in-depth analysis of the incident circumstances, police reports, and witness statements.
While these exceptions exist, they don’t change the fact that dog bite injuries can be serious and life-altering. Victims may suffer significant injuries, including bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, or even amputations, and it’s important that they understand their rights and the potential avenues for compensation.
Navigating the Legal Landscape with Expert Guidance
Understanding who bears the financial burden in a dog bite incident is just one piece of the puzzle. Having an expert legal representation to defend your rights and guide you through the challenges of Indiana’s dog bite laws is crucial.
Our team of personal injury lawyers specializes in dog bite cases just like yours. We help victims claim compensation for the damages related to the attack, and we’re here to help you get the justice you deserve.
If you have a similar case, don’t hesitate in contacting us to request a free consultation and file a claim.