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Dog Bite Injuries a Growing Problem in Indiana

Steve Wagner

Dog bite incidents may not often make headlines, but such incidents are more commonplace than we think. In 2012, animal-control authorities investigated 1,182 cases of dog bites in Indiana. The state ranks seventh among US states in terms of insurance claims for dog bites. In all, there were 148 insurance claims worth $2.7 million, in 2012. Overall in the USA, there were 3,670 dog-bite claims and $108 million worth of payments in dog bite claims. In the same year, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery recorded 27,752 reconstructive procedures undertaken by various medical practitioners, to treat dog bite injuries.

Most of the dog bite attacks were not from stray dogs, but rather from animals the victims knew. Children are especially vulnerable as their faces, being closer to eye-level with dogs’ snouts, often suffer from much more severe bites and facial injuries. Adults typically suffer from leg and arm bites.

While victims can claim insurance to recover all or some of their expenses, they should ideally be filing a suit against the owner or caretaker of the dog, seeking compensation not just for treatment, but also for physical and emotional trauma, loss of earning capacity, and many other grounds.

The responsibility of a dog bite injury falls on the pet owner or the custodian. However, the law is not black and white to the extent that if you suffer a bite, you will be immediately granted compensation. Unless the victim is carrying out an official duty, like postmen, when the law expressly makes the owner of the dog liable, Indiana dog bite liability rests on proving negligence, and the “one bite rule.”

The “one bite rule” in effect gives dogs a “free bite.” It is only when the dog bites a second time, that claims for liability stand. But even then, the responsibility is on the victim to prove negligence.

The claim for damages may vary depending on many factors. For instance:

  • The dog straying outside the property unless under reasonable control of a person counts as Class C infraction and establishes negligence
  • A landowner can be held liable only when he or she had actual knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities
  • A person supervising a child may actually be held liable rather than the pet owner, if the dog bites the child.

There are many details and minor laws which can greatly affect a dog bite case, and need the assistance of an Indiana dog bite attorney in order to navigate and deliver compensation to the dog-bite victim. Wagner Reese has a team of experienced Indiana personal injury lawyers well suited for this task. Contact us today at (888) 204-8440 for a free case evaluation.


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