Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” and many Hoosiers agree. Indiana has the sixth highest rate of dog ownership in the country, with at least one dog residing in 49.4 percent of the state’s households. Dogs can be a great source of companionship and unconditional love, but their behavior can sometimes be unpredictable and even violent. An average of 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs annually, with 19 percent of them requiring medical attention. While some of these incidents inflict minimal harm, others may result in serious, potentially fatal injuries.
Indiana law permits dog bite victims to recover compensation from the dog’s owner, but a positive outcome is not guaranteed, particularly in light of the restrictions imposed on these types of claims by the state.
If you are struggling to get back on track after being bitten by a dog in the Hammond area, reach out to the Hammond dog bite lawyers at Hensley Legal Group, where we have been fighting for the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years. We will not let anything get between our clients and justice.
Call (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or complete our contact form for a free case review with a Hammond dog bite lawyer.
Who Is Eligible to Pursue a Dog Bite Claim?
A number of factors may determine whether a dog bite victim can pursue a claim, including the victim’s identity, the dog’s history, and the circumstances leading up to the attack.
Under Title 15, Article 20, Sec. 3 of the Indiana Code, police officers, firefighters, postal workers, and others carrying out the duties of the state or federal government at the time of a dog attack are granted broad latitude to recover financial damages. If a dog bites someone “without provocation” while he or she is
- acting peaceably; and
- in a location 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.” This holds true even if the dog “has not previously behaved in a vicious manner” or if the owner “has no knowledge of prior vicious behavior by the dog.”
Unlike government workers on official business, private citizens have a much higher bar to clear if they wish to take action for a dog bite in Indiana. Thanks to the state’s “One-Bite Rule,” dog owners cannot be held liable if they can prove that they did not have prior knowledge of the dog behaving aggressively. Effectively, this gives the dog owner a free pass for the dog’s first bite, though not for any subsequent incidents.
While the One-Bite Rule can be frustrating for many victims, this legal protection for dog owners is by no means absolute. The One-Bite Rule may not apply if there is evidence that the dog owner’s negligence led to the attack. Such negligence could include:
- Letting the dog off leash in an on-leash area
- Failing to keep a dog from escaping a yard, kennel, or confined area
- Not posting proper signage warning of the presence of an aggressive dog
- Permitting a dog with known violent tendencies to be near people
- Failing to supervise a dog around children, with or without a history of aggression
Getting a dog bite case off the ground in Indiana can be challenging, but our Hammond dog bite attorneys are highly proficient at overcoming the shields against liability that dog owners enjoy.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
The injuries sustained in a dog attack can range from mild to extreme. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Skin abrasions and tears
- Rabies and communicable diseases
- Torn ligaments and muscles
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Facial disfigurement
- Fall-related head trauma
- Loss of fingers or limbs
- Psychological distress
In certain cases, dog bite injuries can prove fatal, particularly among very young or very old victims. In 2019 alone, 48 people were killed in dog attacks nationwide. Even superficial wounds can have a long-lasting impact, with symptoms only becoming apparent over time. It is crucial to work with an attorney who understands that large medical problems can develop from even the smallest bite.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bite?
It can be difficult to think clearly after being bitten by a dog, but what you do next can have a major impact on your well-being and the viability of any future claim. If you suffer a dog bite, remember to:
- Seek medical attention – Delays in treatment can hinder your ability to heal while also permitting insurance companies to cast doubt on the causal link between the incident and your injuries.
- Obtain dog owner and witness information – If you do not know the dog owner, you should obtain that person’s contact information in case you need to seek compensation later on. Eyewitnesses can also offer independent support for your claim.
- Verify that the dog has been vaccinated – If a dog’s vaccination shots are current, you may be able to avoid painful treatments for conditions such as rabies. You should also get the name of the dog’s veterinarian so you do not have to take the owner’s word about the dog’s vaccination history.
- Notify animal control – It is important to report the dog bite as soon as you can. Animal control tracks dogs who are responsible for repeated attacks, which can be useful in overcoming the One-Bite Rule, while the report produced could provide an invaluable record of the incident. Always be sure to fully convey your version of what happened so that an inadequate report does not unfairly hamper your claim.
- Avoid talking to the insurance company – If the dog owner has applicable insurance coverage (typically a homeowner’s policy), you may be surprised how quickly representatives from the company try to contact you. Avoid talking to them if possible. Even the most innocuous statements can be used against you to limit the carrier’s financial exposure, especially if you do not know your rights under the law.
- Contact a dog bite lawyer – To learn more about your rights, contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer who can review the facts of the incident, answer any questions you may have, and advise you of what to expect if you decide to pursue a claim.
How Our Dog Bite Lawyers Can Make a Difference
A dog bite can change everything. You may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by medical bills, your ability to earn a living may be impaired, and you may have to cope with permanent, highly visible scarring, which can have enduring emotional and psychological consequences.
You need attorneys with the compassion to support you in this trying time and the skill to triumph over the legal constraints that stand in your way. You need the dedicated Hammond dog bite attorneys at Hensley Legal Group.
Hensley prides itself on advocating for honest Indiana residents who have been hurt through no fault of their own. We refuse to let large insurance companies prevent us from serving the best interests of our clients.
If you retain our firm, we will launch an exhaustive investigation into everyone responsible within the time permitted by law. We have decades of experience countering common defenses in dog bite cases, such as the One-Bite Rule. If there is evidence of negligence or earlier instances of unprovoked attacks, we will do everything possible to uncover it.
Once we have assembled an airtight case against the at-fault parties, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement that reflects all of your losses, including:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished enjoyment of life
- Punitive or wrongful death damages (if applicable)
If we do not receive an offer that is worthy of your case, we are more than willing to go to trial to obtain a verdict that is.
And if you are concerned about taking on additional expenses, you should know that we work on a contingency basis. You will never pay us anything unless our Hammond dog bite attorneys win your case.
You have enough to deal with right now simply trying to get better without also having to figure out how to pay for it. Let Hensley recover the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Contact a Hammond Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Hensley Legal Group is committed to defending the hardworking men and women of Indiana. If you are the innocent victim of a dog bite, contact a Hammond dog bite lawyer today to discuss the remedies available to you.
Schedule a no-cost consultation with one of our dog bite attorneys by calling (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or completing our contact form.
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