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Am I Always Liable For My Dog’s Bites?

Am I Always Liable For My Dog’s Bites?

  • Posted In: Dog Bites
  • Posted On: 26 July, 2016

Discuss Your Case With An Indianapolis Dog Bite Attorney

State Farm Insurance paid a record $118 million in dog bite claims nationwide in 2015. A not insignificant portion of that amount was paid out in Indiana, which ranks ninth in the U.S. in this category. In addition to insurance payouts, however, bite victims can sometimes also hold someone liable for their injuries. Whether or not that is possible depends on the fact pattern as it applies to Indiana’s specific statute.

Strict Liability Means No Fault Need Be Proven

Some states in the U.S. have laws which impose strict liability on a dog owner if their animal injures another person. Normally, liability is only imposed if someone is proven to have been negligent. But when dealing with potentially dangerous things or animals, strict liability is imposed because keeping dangerous things requires an extra degree of care – it is inherently dangerous. For example, hiring a subcontractor with insufficient liability insurance in your profession makes you strictly liable for any damages caused by that subcontractor.

Indiana Has Limited Strict Liability For Animal Bites

Indiana allows for strict liability in dog bite cases, but only if the plaintiff is a person discharging some sort of duty (it may be a duty of care, a duty imposed on them by their employer, by the government, or an other legitimate actor). The average person who may wander into the wrong yard may bring a claim against the dog’s owner or the owner of the premises, but they must prove it in a standard negligence case, rather than getting the benefit of strict liability.

Indiana Is A “One Bite Rule” State

The “one bite rule” is a holdover from English common law, and it states that the owner of a domestic animal, who has reason to know that animal is unusually dangerous, is liable for harm to anyone injured by that animal (except for trespassers), even if he has taken the most possible care to prevent it. Indiana subscribes to this rule, and while in the past it has meant that dogs get “one free bite” – it was formerly argued that biting would be the only way to detect a ‘dangerous propensity’ – this is no longer the case. If you have been bitten by a dog and are unable to argue strict liability, this is the rule your case will likely be tried under.

Call An Indianapolis Dog Bite Attorney

Being bitten by an animal can cause significant physical and emotional pain, and in most cases, deserves compensation. Contact the Indianapolis dog bite attorneys at Holland & Holland today to discuss your case and see what the most appropriate path for you and yours might be. We can be reached via our website or by telephone at (317) 581-4400.

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