Each year in the United States, almost 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. About a fifth of those bites are serious enough to require medical treatment and, in 2012, more than 25,000 dog bite victims had to have reconstructive surgery. Dogs of all types are responsible for these injuries—even when they do not have a history of being aggressive or biting before. Often, the dog bite victim is someone who is simply doing his or her job.
A large percentage of dog bite victims are postal workers, delivery people, and other individuals who work outside or have to enter a private resident’s yard or home. Any time your job calls you to enter someone else’s yard, you are at risk for a dog bite injury.
At Wagner Reese, we encourage you to never approach a strange dog and even be wary of approaching familiar dogs if their owners are not present/available to offer assistance with the dog should it be needed. Dogs are protective animals and, consequently, their natural instincts can take over if they feel that someone entering their territory is a threat, which can result in an individual being attacked and bitten.
If you were bitten by a dog while on the job, contact our Indianapolis dog bite attorneys at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation regarding your legal options.
Understanding Indiana Dog Bite Law
In Indiana, dog owners are reasonably responsible for ensuring that their pets do not harm others. Our state has what is known as the “one bite” rule. Under this rule, dog owners are liable for injuries their dogs cause if the owner knew or should have known that the dog was aggressive or was likely to bite. Typically, this can be proven by showing that the dog has acted aggressively before or that it has bitten other people in the past.
It may also be possible to hold a dog owner liable if you can show that the owner acted negligently, for example, by letting their dog roam in an unfenced area. If a dog has a history of acting aggressively toward strangers, including postal workers or delivery people, but the owner of the dog allows it to be in the front yard without a leash, the owner is acting negligently. If the dog bites you or attacks you while you are attempting to carry out the duties entailed in your job, you will likely be able to hold the owner of the dog liable for your damages.
What to Do If You Encounter a Dog while Working
When encountering an unrestrained dog or a dog that is acting aggressively, safety is of the utmost importance. Never attempt to approach a dog that is growling, barking, or otherwise acting in an aggressive manner. Do not approach any dog if the owner is not present, as even a dog that does not appear aggressive may suddenly become territorial.
If you come upon a dog while you are working, follow these steps:
- If the dog is loose, contact the local animal control department and/or your employer.
- Do not approach any dog that you are unfamiliar with and use caution when approaching any dog, even if you are familiar with it.
- Do not do anything to provoke the dog, such as yelling or kicking at it, throwing items at it, or backing the dog into a corner.
- Never mistreat, tease, or abuse any dog you encounter, including both restrained and unrestrained dogs.
- Avoid dogs that are tied up, contained in a yard, eating, barking, growling, or acting aggressively, as well as dogs that have puppies.
- If a dog is barking, growling, snarling, or acting aggressively toward you, quickly and calmly retreat to a safe area.
- If possible, visually search the area to locate the owner. Avoid altercations, even if you are distressed. Instead, calmly alert the owner that his/her dog is loose or acting aggressively.
Unfortunately, even when exercising caution, workers are still frequently bitten by dogs. If this is the case, get to a safe area immediately and seek medical attention for your injuries. Notify your employer of the incident and file a report with the proper authorities. Keep any and all information related to the incident, including medical bills and the dog owner’s contact information. Lastly, reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and work to recover the compensation you are owed.
How Our Firm Can Help
Few things are as frightening as being attacked by a dog. Even small dogs can leave severe, lasting injuries—both physical and mental. At Wagner Reese, we believe that negligent dog owners should be held accountable. Our team of Indianapolis dog bite lawyers has more than 150+ years of combined legal experience; we understand how the process works and what it takes to win. If you were injured on the job due to a dog bite, we can help you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. While financial compensation cannot undo the pain and suffering you have been through, it can assist with the cost of medical bills, lost income, and other damages.
Contact our office online or by phone at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a complimentary case evaluation today.