Dog Bite and Animal Attack Attorneys In Highland
Suffering a bite from an animal is a painful and often frightening experience. The unique biology of animals means that seeking medical attention as soon as possible is your number one priority. Still, even when this is achieved, the long-term implications of an animal bite can be devastating.
Indiana has a statutory and common law in place when it comes to animal bites and these are designed to try and help everyone stay safe and well. Frequently, however, incidents do occur, and it is imperative that you are able to access the support and legal assistance you need. Dog bites are the main types of injury covered in this area and there are laws in place to protect your rights and help you to achieve justice.
What Do I Do If I Am Bitten?
If you are the victim of a dog or other animal bite, the first course of action you take depends mainly on the circumstances at hand. If you feel you are in immediate danger or you or another victim have suffered severe injuries, you should call 911 as a matter of priority. Law enforcement procedures will then kick in and handle the report, including contacting the necessary representatives from animal services to possibly collect the animal, and begin an investigation.
If you are not in immediate danger, and the dog or other animal is with an owner, you should head to the emergency room for treatment. All dog bites will be automatically reported to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, and the details will be passed onto animal control to locate the dog. Reporting the incident helps to create a state record of the attack; this can be useful if any future attacks take place.
Who Is Liable?
In Indiana, pet owners have a statutory and common law obligation to use reasonable care to control their pets. Depending on the circumstances, liability may be attributed to the owner. There are two main areas used to determine this: the status of the person bitten and the breed and history of the animal.
What Is Negligence or the “One Bite Rule?”
Generally, Indiana does not operate according to a “One Bite Rule.” It has been held that “animals are not necessarily entitled to one free bite before their owners are held liable for negligence.” A dog owner in Indiana is required to keep his dog under reasonable care and control even if he is unaware of any vicious tendencies in the dog. In addition, a person supervising a child may be liable if that person’s dog bites the child, even if the dog has not bitten before.
In essence, the court will determine whether the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from injuring the plaintiff. If the answer is yes, the owner may be liable for negligence. If the answer is no, however, they generally will not be found liable.
In addition, Indiana statutory law protects certain people from dog bites like postal workers, police officers, and firemen. Indiana law provides:
“A dog, without provocation, bites a person:
- who is acting peaceably; and
- who is in a location where the person may be required to be in order to discharge a duty imposed upon the person by:
- the laws of Indiana;
- the laws of the United States; or
- the postal regulations of the United States;
The owner of the dog is liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten.” [I.C. 15-20-1-3]
This is the case even if the dog has never previously behaved viciously or the owner has no knowledge of prior cruel behavior by the dog.
If the owner is found to be liable under this statute, you will be able to recover damages from them.
City or town ordinances may also be helpful in prosecuting a dog bite claim. If an ordinance requires a dog to be “under restraint,” then a dog owner may be found negligent and liable even if a trespass occurs if the dog was not leashed. An unexcused or unjustified violation of such an ordinance constitutes negligence per se. Plesha v. Edmonds 717 N.E. 2d 981 (1999)
How Long Do I Have?
Indiana statute of limitations gives a maximum of two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit, in line with other personal injury claims. Minors, however, have until they turn the age of 20 years old to file suit. Any cases brought to court after this period are very likely to be dismissed.
Are There Any Defenses?
When you file a claim to pursue damages, the pet owner may attempt to blame you by asserting the defense of comparative negligence or comparative fault. This occurs when the victim is seen as partially or fully negligent or responsible for any injuries incurred from a dog bite.
As an example, anyone who was trespassing on private property may not be able to receive compensation because they were acting unlawfully by being in that location. In addition, if there is proof that the victim of the bite provoked the dog in any way, they could also be held partially or fully responsible for their injuries. A person will need to be proven 50% or less at fault to receive compensation for injuries received from a dog bite.
What Can I Do?
If you have been the victim of a dog bite in Indiana or Illinois, it is important to seek qualified legal advice as soon as possible. Here at Hilbrich Law Firm, we have worked with victims of animal bites in a range of situations and we are ready to provide you with personal injury attorney in Highland. Get in touch with us at (219) 924-2427, and let us try to help you work out the best steps to ensure you achieve compensation and justice.