One Bite Rule in Indiana


Many states have limited liability protection for dog owners whose dogs bite someone for the first time. If the dog doesn’t have a history of aggression or has never bitten anyone or attacked another animal, the courts may give the dog owner the benefit of not having full liability. This is called the “one bite” rule and is normally used in cases where the dog never was believed to be a danger.

However, the one bite rule doesn’t get rid of all the liability for a dog owner in Indiana if the dog bit or attacked another animal, it merely gives the dog owner a bit of relief when it comes to the owner’s legal liability for any damages.

Strict Liability in Indiana Dog Bites

The state of Indiana has a strict liability law which states that if your dog bites or attacks without being provoked, the owner of the dog is liable for all losses and damages incurred by the victim of the dog bite.

Indiana Code 15-20-1-3 says that no matter what the history of the dog is, it if attacks or bites anyone, the owner of the dog is responsible for the accident, as well as the person’s damages.

In dog bite cases in Indiana, damages could include the person’s pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation, prolonged suffering, PTSD, permanent scarring, and more.

How the One Bite Rule Applies to Dog Bite Laws

The one bite rule is applicable in every state and the District of Columbia and is just one method used to establish liability on the part of the dog owner. Additionally, many states and the District of Columbia have modified the rule for specific circumstances.

Criminal laws that may apply to dog owners are based on the one bite rule, in that in dog attacks, criminal liability generally will not apply unless the dog previously displayed similar aggressive or violent behavior.

The Reason Behind the One Bite Rule

The one bite rule was created based on the fact that dogs or other domestic animals were not prone to causing injuries and any liability could only be based on the dog’s victim’s knowledge of that animal. Remember, the one bite rule applied to any injury, not just a bite.

A Bite is Not Required Under the One Bite Rule

The name ‘one bite rule’ is somewhat misleading as it applies to any injury caused by a dog, such as a trip or a fall, or the dog jumped on someone and knocked them down causing injury.

In the Restatement [Third] of Torts: phys. & Emot. Harm, Section 23 comment (c) , “Scienter] (paraphrased).  Circumstances that do not involve an actual bite, which gives the dog owner a reason to know that the dog has dangerous tendencies.  The dog isn’t entitled to one bite. It’s enough that the owner of the animal knows that it has on other occasions, shown a tendency to attack people, which makes the dog potentially dangerous.

Dog Bite Laws in Indiana

Indiana dog bite laws are slightly different from other states in that it requires dog owners to train their dogs to act appropriately when approached by someone the dog doesn’t know.  The dog is also supposed to be kept on a leash unless there are circumstances that they can be let loose, or if there is a fence or door that constrains them.

Indiana Code Section 15-20-1-3 says that a dog owner is responsible for someone else’s injuries if their dog, without being provoked, bites someone who is acting reasonably if the dog in an area where the owner’s duty of care is present, such as their home or yard.

However, you have to be lawfully present on the owner’s property such as in a case of a government worker, or someone who was invited into the dog owner’s property to conduct business or as a guest.

If you were attacked or bitten by a dog in Indiana and did nothing to provoke the dog to hurt you, you should contact an Indiana dog bite lawyer immediately, as you only have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim.

Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyers have the experience and knowledge to assist you in your dog bite claim and help you get the monetary compensation you deserve.

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.