Imagine the owner of a happy-go-lucky Pug learning that their dog has bitten the neighbor’s child on their hand, leaving a wound that required an emergency visit. The dog owner acts surprised and apologizes profusely. The parents of the child heard that Indiana has a “one-bite” law and are now concerned that they will be responsible for their child’s medical bills.
While Indiana does have a one-bite law, many people mistakenly interpret this to mean that every dog can bite someone once and their owner gets a free pass. In other words, the parents of the child might falsely believe that they do not have a dog bite claim.
In reality, the parents of this child may be able to pursue damages, and Indiana’s dog bite laws DO NOT allow every dog a free bite.
What Does Indiana’s “One-Bite” Law Really Mean?
First, Indiana is not a one-bite-free state. (After all, how can we truly know when a dog may have first bitten someone?)
Our state’s law will hold dog owners liable for damages if it is proven that the owner acted negligently in failing to prevent a bite or attack on an unsuspecting individual and/or they had prior knowledge that the dog has displayed aggressive traits.
Boulton Law Group has investigated a number of dog bite cases in which the one-bite law was a concern for the victim. Our aim in these cases is to find evidence or prove that the dog has exhibited previous behavior that should have indicated to the owner that their dog was capable of attacking someone.
Behaviors that may indicate the potential to bite or attack do not have to be especially overt or demonstrative. Instead, prior aggression that may negate the one-bite rule can include:
- Growling or barking at passersby and neighbors.
- Snapping its teeth at someone, even if the dog didn’t actually bite.
- Charging at people or knocking someone down, i.e., the dog in question has knocked over a small child in the past.
In addition to the dog’s disposition and prior behavior, we may also look for secondary evidence that the owner knew the animal was potentially aggressive, such as a “Dog Warning” sign posted somewhere on their property.
The posting of a sign or keeping a dog continually leashed may indicate that the owner had prior knowledge of the animal’s vicious tendencies, and being able to prove prior knowledge will be key in certain dog bite cases.
Other factors will also come into play during dog bite cases, including the breed of the dog, and whether the owner displayed reasonable care, such as properly restraining the dog.
Last, depending on your job, it is also possible that Indiana’s one-bite law may go right out the window.
One Bite Law: Postal Carriers and Police Officers
Indiana law allows government officials acting within the scope of their employment to hold a dog owner liable for dog bite damages even if it is proven the animal has never displayed aggressive behavior in the past.
This exception is especially important for Indiana’s postal workers and police officers who are the most likely to come into contact with neighborhood dogs.
With that in mind, this exclusion of the one-bite law does not apply to private delivery workers, such as Amazon Prime, FedEx, etc. For this reason, it is especially important that these drivers and delivery workers contact an experienced Indianapolis dog bite attorney to investigate their claim and gather evidence pertinent to the attack.
Unsure About Your Rights in a Dog Bite Case?
First, do not believe that you are without legal options just because the dog owner says “sorry” or “this has never happened before.”
As we explained above, even if the dog owner claims their animal has never bitten anyone in the past, it is still possible that they are liable for your damages.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an experienced Indianapolis dog bite attorney with more than 20 years’ experience helping injured Hoosiers. He has helped his dog bite clients to recover compensation or a variety of damages, including:
- Medical bills related to the dog bite/attack
- Past and future cosmetic procedures
- Lost wages
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Pain and suffering
Attorney Boulton and his legal staff can conduct a dog bite investigation on your behalf to help you determine the best way to pursue various types of compensation.
Contact Attorney Boulton for a Free Dog Bite Case Evaluation
Boulton Law Group offers every Indiana dog bite victim and their family a Zero Fee Guarantee. Our promise helps to ensure all dog bite victims have equal access to award-winning legal representation and an understanding of their rights.
In addition to providing Hoosiers with free legal guidance, Boulton Law Group also aims to leave every caller with a memorable customer service experience. Our reputation for treating clients like family is one of the many reasons we are sought after by personal injury clients throughout Indiana.
To speak with attorney Boulton direct, please call 317-350-2680.
If you prefer to write to us with your story, you can use our confidential contact form. Attorney Boulton personally reviews every web contact.
We look forward to hearing your dog bite story and understanding more about how we can help you.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.