Hoosiers clearly agree with the old adage that dogs are “man’s best friend.” At least one dog resides in almost half of all households in Indiana, which has the sixth highest rate of dog ownership nationwide. Whether they are walking alongside their owners through the city streets or roaming freely in one of the community’s off-leash parks, our canine friends are practically everywhere you look in Muncie.
Dogs can be loving companions, but their behavior can sometimes be unpredictable, with the mildest irritation triggering a violent response. Each year, dogs attack approximately 4.5 million Americans, with almost twenty percent of them needing medical attention.
If you have been bitten by a dog in the Muncie area, you may be eligible to seek compensation from its owner, but Indiana law can make recovery difficult. To increase the chances of a favorable outcome, turn to the Muncie dog bite attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been getting justice for the everyday people of Indiana for over 25 years.
Call us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form for a complimentary case review with a Muncie dog bite lawyer.
Can You Pursue a Dog Bite Case?
While Indiana allows residents to take legal action against dog owners for unwarranted attacks, many are surprised by the obstacles they may encounter when they try to do so. Your ability to pursue a dog bite case successfully may depend on who you are, the dog’s history, and the circumstances leading up to your personal injury.
Certain classes of plaintiffs are given wide latitude to initiate dog bite claims in Indiana, namely police officers, firefighters, postal workers, and other state or federal employees who are bitten while doing their jobs. Under Title 15, Article 20, Section 3 of the Indiana Code, if a dog attacks someone “without provocation” while that individual is
- acting peaceably; and
- in a location where he or she is required to be to carry out 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 that owner “has no knowledge of prior vicious behavior by the dog” or that dog “has not previously behaved in a vicious manner.”
When it comes to Indiana dog bite cases, one set of rules seems to apply to government workers on official business, while pretty much everyone else in the state has to abide by another set of rules, or really just one rule: the “One-Bite Rule.” Under this standard, an owner may not be culpable when a dog attacks a private citizen if that owner did not have previous knowledge of the dog acting aggressively.
Effectively, Indiana’s One-Bite Rule gives dog owners a free pass the first time their pets attack, but not for any repeat offenses – cold comfort for anyone with the misfortune of being first.
Overcoming the One-Bite Rule
As frustrating as the One-Bite Rule can be for the average dog bite victim in Indiana, this principle does not grant dog owners complete immunity from civil liability. A plaintiff may be able to overcome the One-Bite Rule by proving that an attack occurred because of an owner’s negligent conduct. Examples of dog owner negligence may include:
- Permitting a dog to escape from a confined area, like a yard or a kennel
- Removing a dog’s leash in a mandatory leash zone
- Not posting signage warning of a dangerous dog’s presence
- Letting a hostile dog interact with the public
- Allowing any dog to be unsupervised around children, regardless of temperament
The Muncie dog bite attorneys at our firm are highly adept at unearthing owner misconduct.
Dogs Can Inflict Devastating Injuries
Breaking through Indiana’s protections for dog owners can be crucial if a dog inflicts devastating or even fatal injuries, which can happen more often than you may realize. Dog attacks claimed 48 lives across the country in 2019 alone, while survivors of these types of incidents may suffer grievous bodily harm, such as:
- Skin lacerations, abrasions, punctures, and tears
- Nerve damage
- Ligament and muscle ruptures
- Facial disfigurement
- Fractured bones
- Loss of limbs
- Head injuries
- Infected wounds and abscesses
- Transmittable illnesses like rabies
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Experienced legal counsel can be useful even when an injury seems superficial, since the symptoms of a significant bite-related condition may emerge only gradually.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
In light of the severity of the damages you may incur, there are steps you should take after a dog bite to help your case. Remember to:
- Get treatment – Postponing medical care could delay the healing process and permit doubt to be introduced over the causal link between your injuries and the attack.
- Obtain owner and witness information – A dog bite claim may never get started if you do not know who the owner is or how you can get in touch. Additionally, witnesses can provide independent confirmation of what took place, so obtain the contact information of anyone who may have been present.
- Make sure the dog is vaccinated – Verifying that the dog is fully vaccinated could spare you painful treatments for rabies and other diseases. Get the name of the dog’s veterinarian if possible so you do not have to simply take the owner’s word for it.
- Inform animal control – Animal control is tasked with documenting local dogs who are responsible for multiple attacks. Proof of earlier aggression could be invaluable in challenging the One-Bite Rule, while an accurate incident report can be beneficial as well, so alert the agency immediately and share a complete version of events.
- Do not speak to the insurance company – If the dog’s owner has applicable coverage (typically a homeowner’s policy), insurance company representatives may be eager to reach out. However, anything you say may do more harm to your case than good, so do not speak to them until you…
- Speak to a lawyer – A capable dog bite lawyer can answer all your questions and explain what you should expect if you are considering a claim.
What Our Dog Bite Attorneys Will Do for Your Case
A minor dog bite can have major consequences, potentially forcing you to deal with mounting bills, reduced earning capacity, and unsightly scarring that can’t easily be covered up.
You need attorneys who are compassionate enough to support you through your struggles and skilled enough to vanquish them. You need the Muncie dog bite attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. No adversary is too intimidating to stop us from serving the interests of our clients.
If you choose to retain our firm, we will launch a comprehensive investigation into everyone who may be at fault for your injuries. Our laser-focused Muncie dog bite lawyers will work tirelessly to uncover any evidence of prior attacks by the dog or negligence by its owner that would defeat the One-Bite Rule.
Once we have put together an airtight case against every defendant, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement that takes into account the entirety of your losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma
- Diminished quality of life
- Punitive damages (if applicable)
And if we do not receive an offer that is worthy of your case, we are not afraid to go to trial for a verdict or settlement that is.
No two dog bite cases are exactly alike, but we will always strive to maximize the value of yours.
You Won’t Need to Pay Until We Win
We realize that spending more money may be the last thing you can afford to do at this moment, so you may be pleased to learn that our firm works on a contingency basis. This means you won’t need to pay us until our Muncie dog bite attorneys win your case.
Hensley is willing to take on all the risks necessary to get you the resources to become whole again.
Meet With Our Muncie Dog Bite Lawyers Today
For more than a quarter century, Hensley Legal Group has been fiercely advocating for the hardworking men and women of Indiana. If you have been attacked by a dog, meet with our Muncie dog bite lawyers today to explore the remedies available to you.
Schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Muncie dog bite attorney by calling us at (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or filling out our contact form.
Free Case Review
You won’t pay any fees until we win your case.
It’s easy - you can: