Indiana Accident & Injury Attorney James L. Lowry

Dog Bites

Indiana has a “dog bite” statute, which provides as follows:

I.C. 15-20-1-3.  Liability of owner for unprovoked dog bites.

Sec. 3. (a)  If a dog, without provocation, bites a person:

(1) who is acting peaceably; and
(2)  who is in allocation where the person may be required to be in order to discharge a duty imposed upon the person by:

(A)  the laws of Indiana;
(B)  the laws of the United States; or
(C)  the postal regulations of the United States;

The owner of the dog is liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten.

(b) The owner of the dog described in subsection (a) is liable for damages even if:

(1)  the dog has not previously behaved in a vicious manner; or
(2)  the owner has no knowledge or prior victims behavior by the dog.

I.C. 15-20-1-2 “Owner” defined

Sec. 2.  As used in this chapter, “owner” means the owner of the dog.  The term includes a person who possesses, keeps or harbors a dog.

Other than in the case of the above, a land owner cannot be held liable for damages caused by the renter’s dog, unless the land owner had actual knowledge of the dangerous propensities of the dog.  Prior escaping does not provide notice of, or constitute, a dangerous propensity, Baker v. Weather (1999).

The courts have given the following definition of “dangerous propensity”:

This court has defined dangerous or vicious propensity as “a propensity or tendency of an animal to do any act which might endanger the safety of personal property in a given situation.  It is the act of the animal and not in the state of mind of the animal from which the affects of a dangerous propensity must be determined.  Royer v. Pryor, 427 N.E2d, 1112, 1117 (Ind.Ct.App. 1981).  After stating this definition in Royer, we held that it is not reasonable to attribute dangerous or vicious propensities to a dog “merely because he barks at strangers, because a person is afraid of the dog, or because a city ordinance requires a dog be restrained at all times.”  (Baker v. Weather, 49A05-9807-VC-381).

Generally, dog owners are liable for a dog attack if they normally keep the dog that is previously attacked or bitten someone or has shown a dangerous tendency to bite someone.  This has come to be known as the “one free bite” rule because dog owners are free from liability if the dog had never bitten anyone or shown any tendency to do so.  A dog bite can be a traumatic experience that can cause serious and long lasting injuries.  If you suffer a dog bite, you should immediately seek medical treatment to prevent infection and identify the dog and report the dog bite attack to the local county Animal Control Agency or Sheriffs Department.  It is important to take photographs of the dog bite injuries and to contact a reputable attorney experienced in representing individuals with who have suffered similar attacks.  After a dog bite attack, the dog bite victim may be facing significant medical bills, pain, treatments and pressure from an insurance company to provide a written statement or settle the case for minimal dollars.  Your chance for success in pursuing a claim increases depending on how effective the investigation and representation are by an attorney skilled in dog bite cases.

If you or somebody you know has been the victim of a dog bite as a result of a negligent dog owner, you need to obtain representation of an experienced dog bite injury lawyer.

Attorney James Lowry has successfully recovered damages for dog bite victims and held negligent dog owners responsible for the injuries and hardships resulting from the attack.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.