Hoosiers seem to agree that dogs are “man’s best friend.” Indiana has the sixth highest rate of dog ownership per capita in the country, with at least one dog living in 49.4 percent of households in the state. Whether frolicking in dog-friendly Fishers destinations like the Pierson Bark Park or cuddling with their owners on a chilly evening, dogs can provide loving companionship. Unfortunately, they can also be unpredictable, and the slightest provocation can sometimes trigger a violent response. About 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs each year, with nearly a fifth of them requiring medical attention.
While the State of Indiana permits a dog bite victim to go after the owner for compensation, achieving a successful outcome can be challenging because of the legal restrictions imposed on these types of claims. If you are having trouble getting what you deserve for a dog bite in the Fishers area, contact the Fishers dog bite attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. For more than a quarter century, we have been fighting to make sure that the everyday people of Indiana enjoy equal access to justice.
For a free consultation with a Fishers dog bite lawyer, call us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or complete our contact form.
Do You Have a Dog Bite Case?
Not everyone who has been attacked by a dog in Indiana is eligible to recover financial damages. Certain factors will determine whether a victim can pursue a dog bite case, including his or her identity, the dog’s prior conduct, and the events leading up to the attack.
Indiana law gives broad latitude to police officers, firefighters, postal workers, and others carrying out the duties of the state or federal government to secure compensation for dog bite injuries. Under Title 15, Article 20, Sec. 3 of the Indiana Code, if a dog bites someone “without provocation” while that person is
- acting peaceably; and
- in a place where he or she is required to be to discharge a duty imposed by:
- the laws of Indiana;
- the laws of the United States; or
- U.S. postal regulations;
then “the owner of the dog is liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten,” even if the dog “has not previously behaved in a vicious manner” or if the dog’s owner “has no knowledge of prior vicious behavior by the dog.”
Unlike government employees attacked during official business, the average Indiana resident has to meet a much higher standard to establish a valid dog bite claim. Under the state’s “One-Bite Rule,” a dog owner cannot be held liable if he or she had no prior knowledge of the dog acting violently. In effect, an Indiana dog owner has a free pass the first time the dog bites a private citizen, though not for any attacks after that.
The One-Bite Rule can make a dog bite case more challenging in Indiana, but dog owners are not entirely shielded from civil liability. The One-Bite Rule will not apply if it can be proven that the dog attack was caused by owner negligence, which may include:
- Letting a dog off leash in a mandatory leash area
- Failing to post appropriate signs warning of a dangerous dog on the premises
- Allowing a dog to escape from a yard, kennel, or confined area
- Permitting a hostile dog to be around people
- Not supervising a dog in the presence of children, regardless of the dog’s demeanor
Our Fishers dog bite attorneys are adept at overcoming the legal protections that would otherwise prohibit a claim.
Common Injuries When Dogs Attack
When dogs attack, they can cause significant bodily harm or even death, especially among very young or very old victims. In 2019 alone, 48 people were killed in dog attacks in the United States. Even a superficial bite can have long-term consequences, with symptoms emerging only gradually. An attacking dog may inflict:
- Skin punctures, tears, and abrasions
- Ruptured muscles and ligaments
- Bone fractures
- Damaged nerves
- Severed fingers and limbs
- Facial disfigurement
- Fall-induced head trauma
- Infections and abscesses
- Rabies and other communicable diseases
- Psychological distress
Victims should seek out seasoned legal representatives who are familiar with the major complications that may develop from a minor dog bite.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
A dog attack can be jarring, but there are a number of steps you should take to protect yourself and any case you may have, including the following:
- Get treatment – It can be difficult to foresee the damage a bite can cause, so get treatment as soon as you can. Any delays could hinder your recovery and call into question the link between the attack and your injuries.
- Get owner and witness information – Obtain the contact information of the dog owner in case you need to take action, as well as the names and numbers of any witnesses who could provide independent confirmation of the attack.
- Confirm the dog has been vaccinated – You may be able to avoid painful treatments for rabies and other conditions if a dog’s vaccinations are current. Also try to get the name of the dog’s veterinarian, since this is too important to just take the owner’s word.
- Contact animal control – Report the dog bite immediately to animal control, which tracks dogs responsible for repeated attacks in the area. Information about the dog’s past can be invaluable in overcoming the One-Bite Rule, while the agency’s incident report could prove useful to your case. Make sure you provide a complete version of what happened because an inaccurate report could come back to haunt you.
- Avoid the insurance company – Insurance company representatives may contact you if the dog owner has applicable coverage (usually a homeowner’s policy), but avoid talking to them if possible. Anything you say could be used to hurt your case, especially if you do not fully understand your rights.
- Contact a dog bite lawyer – To learn more about your rights, contact a knowledgeable dog bite lawyer who can answer any questions you may have and advise you of what to expect if you are considering a claim.
What Our Dog Bite Attorneys Can Do for You
One bite can be all it takes to turn your world upside down, forcing you to deal with mounting medical bills while your injuries make it harder for you to earn a living. You may also be left with permanent scarring in a highly visible area, which can have a lasting impact on your emotional well-being.
You need attorneys with the compassion to support you through your struggles and the skill to help you overcome them. You need the dedicated Fishers dog bite attorneys at Hensley Legal Group.
Since 1998, Hensley has devoted its practice to fighting for hardworking people just like you who have been hurt through no fault of their own. No obstacle is too intimidating to prevent us from serving the best interests of our clients.
If you decide to retain our firm, we will launch a thorough investigation into everyone responsible for your injuries within the time allotted by law. Our dog bite lawyers have extensive experience overcoming common defenses like the One-Bite Rule. If there is evidence of owner negligence or a history of aggressive behavior by the dog, we will work tirelessly to expose it.
After putting together a rock-solid case against the at-fault parties, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement that takes into account the totality of your losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished enjoyment of life
- Psychological anguish
- Punitive damages (if applicable)
If we do not receive an offer that reflects the true value of your claim, we are more than willing to go to trial for a verdict that does.
We understand that additional expenditures may be beyond your means at this moment, so you may be pleased to learn that we work on a contingency basis. You will never pay us anything until our Fishers dog bite attorneys win your case.
You have enough to worry about right now simply trying to get your life back to normal. Let Hensley get you the resources necessary to do it.
Speak with a Fishers Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Hensley Legal Group has been standing up for the innocent victims of negligence for over 25 years. If you have been injured in an unprovoked dog attack, speak with a Fishers dog bite lawyer today to explore your legal options.
You can schedule a no-cost case review with one of our dog bite attorneys by calling (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or completing our contact form.