What does Indiana law say about dog bites?
Dog owners in Indiana have a legal responsibility to ensure that their dogs do not bite people who are acting peaceably or just doing their jobs. A dog owner can be held civilly liable and criminally liable for a dog attack, even if the dog hasn’t behaved viciously before or the owner isn’t aware of any such prior behavior.
Under Indiana law, the owner of a dog may be the actual owner, but the legal term “owner” also includes anyone who “possesses, keeps or harbors a dog.” In other words, someone in charge of restraining a dog may be liable for an attack, even if the person in charge is not the person who purchased or initially took ownership of the dog.
These are important matters to understand for anyone who has suffered a dog attack. Compared with car accidents and other forms of personal injury, dog bites may be relatively rare, but they can result in permanent injury, scars and high medical bills, not to mention the pain of the injury.
If a dog bite results in bodily injury to the victim, then the owner could be charged with a misdemeanor. If the attack results in death, then the owner could be charged with a felony. In addition to criminal charges, civil claims of negligence can be brought against the owner of the animal, and Indiana law states that dog owners can be held “liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten.”
A successful negligence claim after a dog attack may involve use of a police report, as well as other evidence obtained through further investigation. To learn more about these matters, please see Steve Crell Law’s animal bite overview.