Indiana Dog Bite Law

Indiana Dog Bite Law

The state of Indiana has various statutes regarding dog bite personal injury cases. As a dog bite victim, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries under the negligence doctrine, negligence per se, scienter, and intentional tort.  Also, there is compensation available for firemen, law enforcement, mail carriers, and other people who are performing duties on behalf of the state of the federal government.


Indiana Dog Bite Law

In general, Indiana follows a “one bite” rule, or a “negligence” rule when a case pertains to a dog bite.

The “one bite” rule says that the owner of the dog is liable for any injuries caused by the dog if the owner knew or had reason to know the dog may bite or be aggressive. The dog owner’s knowledge of this depends on each case.

For example, if the owner of the dog knew the dog bit someone in the past, that knowledge may be used in court to prove the owner knew the dog might bite. Additionally, previous aggressive or dangerous behavior on the part of the dog may also be used in court to show the owner knew or should have known their dog was capable of injuring someone.

The negligence rule, however, doesn’t only rely on what the dog owner knew about their dog. It is used in court to argue that the dog’s owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing the injury. While negligence can be used in an attempt to receive compensation for a dog bite, it may be used for other types of injuries caused by the dog as well. For example, if the dog jumped on someone and knocked them down causing that person to be injured, the injured person may argue that the owner of the dog failed to use reasonable care to stop the dog from jumping.


Indiana Dog Bite Statute

Indiana’s dog bite statute, IC 15-20-1-3 applies only in particular circumstances. This statute states that the owner of a dog is liable if the dog bites a person who was:

  1. Acting in a peaceful manner
  2. Did not provoke the dog
  3. Was in a place they were required to be to carry out the duties of state or federal law, or postal regulations.

Primarily, this statute applies to those that have a legal duty, like a fireman, law enforcement, and postal workers who are only performing their jobs. Typically, this statute doesn’t apply to the general public who are conducting their business on public or private property.


Negligence Per Se

In Indiana, the only duty the owner of a piece of the property owes a trespasser is to not willfully or wantonly injure them after the trespasser is discovered on the owner’s property as negligence would be insufficient.

The exception to this rule, however, is in dog bite cases where Indiana courts have been consistently applying a negligence standard whether or not the dog bite victim was a trespasser or a guest on the land where the dog is kept.

Article 20, Animal Control, of the Indiana Code, has two provisions that impose civil liability for a dog bite under negligence per se, Under Indiana Code IC 15-20-1-4, it is a misdemeanor if the owner of the dog, “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally fails to take reasonable steps to restrain a dog” and the dog bites a person.

Additionally, wolfdogs and coydogs, a coyote mixed with another animal, are banned under Indiana Code 15-20-1-5, and if this type of dog bit someone, the owner would be held liable under negligence per se.


Liability for Landlords in Indiana

The state of Indiana also places a limited duty on landlords and owners of land to protect third parties from dangerous dogs owned by their tenants. There is a two-part test for landlord liability.

  1. Does the landlord retain some measure of control over the premises where the dog lives; and
  2. Did the landlord know that at the time the dog injured someone that the dog had a vicious nature

Note that if the dog escapes, it does not constitute a dangerous propensity.


Call The Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyers Today

The Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyers recommend that you seek out a knowledgeable dog bite attorney if you suffered an injury due to a dog bite, or if you are the owner of a dog that has bitten someone. Call them today at (919) 372-0073

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