According to a 2020 stat report by PawlicyAdvisor, 49.4% of Indiana households own at least 1 dog. And how does that stack up against the rest of the country? Indiana is #6 in terms of the highest dog ownership rate among the 50 states!
Given that nearly half of the homes in Indiana claim to own one or more dogs, it’s not uncommon for Hoosier children to come into contact with a canine while visiting with a friend or neighbor.
Attorney Matt Boulton has handled a number of Indiana dog bite claims that occurred while a child was playing at a neighbor’s house. In the majority of these cases, the dog was either unprovoked, or reacted to sudden movement, and bit the child with little to no warning.
Neighbor’s Dog Bit My Child – What Now?
Of course, the primary concern for any child who has sustained a dog bite is their immediate health and safety. As such, any significant injuries should be examined by emergency rescue personnel and/or a doctor as soon as possible.
However, assuming your child has already been examined and treated for wounds, rabies exposure, or other infections, there are a number of factors you may wish to consider when deciding on your next steps.
- Was an Official Report Filed?
If your child was bitten by a neighbor’s dog, an official should be filed with the appropriate local Indiana authorities.
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In the event police and/or animal control officers respond to the scene where the bite occurred, they are required to file an official report with the county’s local health department and animal shelter. In addition to quarantine measures, the health department requires notification so they can investigate a list of items, such as the dog’s rabies’ shot history, any past instances of prior aggression, etc.
If you have questions about how to file an official report, or where it can be obtained, an experienced dog bite attorney should be able to assist you.
- Consulting with an Indiana Dog Bite Attorney
Having an experienced Indiana dog bite attorney review your child’s potential case helps to establish a number of important details, such as:
1) Liability – In order to be compensated for medical bills and any additional damages, a theory of liability must be established that proves your child shares no more than 50% liability for the dog bite.
And while many times a child has no liability for the incident, there are factors that may affect the overall value of a potential claim, such as whether or not the they had permission to be on the property or in the home, or if it’s proven that the child was antagonizing the dog before the bite occurred.
For this reason, you should consider having an experienced dog bite attorney review the incident before talking to the insurance company, giving a statement, or signing any documents sent to you.
Remember, the insurance company is tasked with paying out as little as possible on a claim, and dog bite cases involving children have the potential to bring up a number of liability concerns.
2) Insurance – Whether it’s a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, the search for applicable coverage may require a bit of research.
For example, you may be told by the dog’s owner that they are uninsured, however, it may be discovered that they are not the primary owner of the residence, thus a search needs to be performed under a different name.
An attorney that has successfully handled dog bite cases can not only help determine where potential coverage may exist, they can help to uncover the amount available under one or more policies.
3) Value – Unless someone has experience with dog bite cases involving children, they may not have any idea what to expect in terms of appropriate compensation.
An experienced dog bite attorney is not only able to help determine what your child’s case may be worth, they can help to ensure any future care is accounted for as well, such as the need for corrective surgery once the scar has matured.
- Psychological Care
The visible wounds a child sustains in a dog bite case will often be more evident than any cognitive effects, however, it is not uncommon for children to develop phobias or other animal-related fears that may cause emotional distress.
If you suspect your child may be suffering mentally from the aftereffects of a dog bite, it is important to consider seeking help from a trained and certified counselor who has experience treating children that have undergone a traumatic incident.
Questions About Your Child’s Dog Bite Case?
If your child was bitten by a neighbor’s dog, it’s understandable for you to be unsure about your next steps. What’s important is that you receive guidance from a qualified legal professional who has successfully handled these cases on behalf of other parents who have undergone a similar experience.
Boulton Law Group offers all Hoosier families a Zero Fee Guarantee for any case involving a child-related dog bite. This means that our firm will never charge you for a consultation, and you’ll never owe anything unless we are hired and win your child’s case.
For a free case evaluation, please feel free to use our confidential contact form.