Many people are surprised that dog bites account for about a third of all homeowners’ insurance claims in Indiana. They reason that since the Hoosier State has owner-friendly laws, a personal injury compensation claim would probably fail. Fortunately, these people are wrong. Animal attack victims have a number of legal options, and the available insurance company defenses are normally weak. That combination often adds up to maximum compensation.
The experienced attorneys at Holland & Holland know the law, and they know how to make it work for victims. Additionally, our professional team is familiar with all the local rules in Marion County and surrounding jurisdictions, including the unwritten ones. Because of this experience, you can trust Holland & Holland to present your best claim possible in court.
Contrary to popular myth, Indiana does have a strict liability dog bite law. However, it only applies if the victim was a firefighter, postal worker, police officer, meter reader, or other public employees (IC 15-20-1-2 protected class). In these instances, dog owners are liable for damages as a matter of law, even if they did not know the dog was potentially dangerous.
If the victim was not in an IC 15-20-1-2 protected class, which is normally the case, dog bite victims may rely on one of the following legal theories:
These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Additionally, the tortfeasor (negligent owner) may not be the only party responsible for damages. For example, landlords are liable if they have some control over the premises and they know that the animal was potentially dangerous.
A good animal attack attorney must do more than prepare a claim for damages. A lawyer should also be ready for some common dog bite defenses.
Provocation is one such defense. In this context, “provocation” means more than verbal teasing or even aggressive physical actions, like poking the animal. Instead, victims provoke animals when they inflict so much pain on these animals that they must react violently. That legal standard makes provocation difficult to prove, especially if the victim is a young child or older adult, and that is often the case.
An assumption of the risk is another possible defense. Signs like “Beware of Dog” are not magic charms that protect owners. The insurance company must still establish the two elements of the defense, which are:
That second prong is often troublesome for insurance companies. The sign must be clearly visible, the victim must be able to read the sign, and the victim must be able to interpret the sign.
Indianapolis dog bite victims have a number of options. For a free consultation with an experienced dog bite lawyer in Indianapolis, contact Holland & Holland. Home and hospital visits are available.
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