The average dog bite injury settlement amount has almost doubled since 2003. Overall, today’s laws are much tougher, and there is a better understanding of dog bite injuries. Indiana is a good example of both these things. The Hoosier State has a limited dog bite strict liability law, along with victim-friendly third-party liability theories. Also, Indianapolis doctors know how to treat both physical and emotional dog bite injuries.
At Holland & Holland, our aggressive attorneys take on big insurance companies, so victims get the compensation they deserve. Furthermore, the results we obtain bring justice to victims, as well. We start fighting for you from the moment you come in for your free consultation. Our advanced evidence-gathering techniques and our vast experience in this area enable us to work from a position of strength.
When large dogs lunge at fragile victims, the knockdowns often cause head injuries and broken bones. Those injuries are severe enough. Unfortunately, the trauma is just beginning.
When dogs bite, their teeth typically cause both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing wounds. The puncture wounds usually pierce internal organs, causing massive internal bleeding. Such bleeding is difficult to detect and even harder to stop. The tearing wounds usually require extensive surgical correction, and also intricate reconstructive procedures. All these medical interventions are incredibly expensive.
Emotionally, many dog bite victims must deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. PTSD is especially common in children. However, it affects all dog bite victims. PTSD and other brain injuries are permanent, but extensive therapy can reduce the symptoms.
Section 15-20-1-3 of the Indiana Code states that owners are strictly liable for dog bite damages if the victim was a postal worker, firefighter, police officer, or other government employees. In a strict liability claim, any defenses, such as the ones outlined below, are generally irrelevant.
Other victims have legal options as well. Generally, they can recover compensation under the common law one-bite rule. According to this doctrine, owners are liable for damages if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. Evidence of knowledge includes:
Note that this evidence could involve something that happened a moment before the attack or a month before the attack.
These scienter (knowledge) claims are a bit more difficult to establish in court, but at Holland & Holland, our experienced Indianapolis dog bite attorneys routinely handle these matters. So, they know the best approach to take. Furthermore, many Marion County jurors do not like irresponsible owners. So, damage awards are often higher in scienter cases than in strict liability cases.
Finally, negligence-based claims often involve vicarious liability issues. In Indiana, landlords and other property owners may be liable for damages in some situations. Third-party liability theories give victims an additional source of recovery, and that is very important in expensive catastrophic injury claims.
Lack of knowledge is a common defense. As outlined above, victims can use a variety of circumstantial evidence tidbits to establish knowledge. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
The provocation defense comes up a lot as well. In Indiana, provocation is not just sudden movements or even aggressive teasing. Instead, provocation is almost synonymous with torture. The victim must inflict so much pain on the animal that violence was its only choice. That level of provocation is extremely difficult to prove.
Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced dog bite attorney in Indianapolis, contact Holland & Holland. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.
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