What Are the Dog Bite Laws in Indiana?

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According to Indiana dog bite laws, all it takes is one bite to determine negligence. Aside from the fact that there’s a statute of limitations in Indiana—two years max—you should know, whether you’re the dog owner or the victim, how the Indiana dog bite laws operate.

What Is the “One Bite” Rule?

Essentially, one bite could be grounds for damages. However, the dog owner has to have some reason to know that the dog will bite or act aggressively. If not, a victim may not be successful in pressing charges.

This largely depends on the facts of any given case. Prior behaviors do play a role. If your dog has had a history of bites and attacks, then reasonably one can assume that you know your dog might have a problem with someone. You are, therefore, responsible for compensation if your pet attacks someone.

This Segues Into the “Negligence” Rule

And in this case, the owner doesn’t even have to know that the dog could attack or bite in order to assume responsibility. In essence, if you didn’t exercise reasonable care in preventing the injury—such as properly restraining your dog, keeping the dog on a leash, ensuring the dog didn’t run off, because you don’t have a privacy fence, etc. etc.—then chances are good you’ll still be liable even if your dog doesn’t have any history of violence.

However, interpretation of the facts play a huge role in this case as well. Oftentimes dogs might show affection in a way that’s not actually meant to be violent at all, in which case any injuries that would’ve occurred as a result would purely be an accident by happenstance and not a direct result of negligence.

What Does The Law Say About Indiana Dog Bite Lawsuits?

When it comes to liability, the Indiana dog bite statute lists it succinctly:

IC 15-20-1-3: a dog’s owner is liable if the dog bites a person who:

  • is acting peaceably,
  • did not provoke the dog, and
  • is in a place he or she is required to be in order to carry out a duty imposed by state or federal law or postal regulations.

Notice, though, that this statute mainly applies to government and municipal workers—such as police officers, firefighters, and postal workers. However, the same standards can apply to private citizens in certain situations.

What Are Some of the Defenses of an Indiana Dog Bite Claim?

Notice the statute does say “provoke.” Therefore, simply put, if the victim provoked your dog, chances are a claim wouldn’t fly in court. Another possible defense would be trespassing; however, that wouldn’t apply to government or municipal service workers who are required to maintain anything from power lines to your water heater.

In short, know the laws inside and out. Look for ways to keep your dog from making unprovoked attacks, and keep your distance from dogs you are not familiar with. Consult with an attorney if you have questions about the dog bite laws in your state and how they affect you.

Written on behalf of Betsy Greene by AskTheLawyers.com™. 

Author: Betsy Greene

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