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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Protecting Pets and People: What Is the One-bite Rule in Indiana?

Indiana is a state that truly loves dogs, as it ranks as the sixth highest state in the US for dog ownership. Nevertheless, even these loyal companions can bite unpredictably, leading to injuries and sometimes severe complications.

Additionally, this introduces Indiana's dog bite laws and the commonly misunderstood "one-bite" rule into the discussion. Contrary to what many believe, the one-bite rule doesn't grant dog owners a free pass on their pet's first bite incident.

This article explains Indiana's dog bite laws and the circumstances that make a dog owner responsible. The intention is to guide both dog owners and bite victims through potential dog bite claims and help them understand how to navigate dog bite cases in the Hoosier State.

What Is the One-bite Rule in Indiana?

What Is the One-bite Rule in Indiana?

In Indiana, the intricate landscape of dog bite cases revolves around the one-bite rule, which is often misconstrued. Understanding what the one-bite rule in Indiana truly means is pivotal for dog owners and dog bite victims alike.

It's essential to dispel the misconception that this rule provides a "free" bite for dogs with no consequences, as it simply isn't the case.

Misconceptions About the One-bite Rule

The complex landscape of these cases revolves around the one-bite rule, which is often misconstrued in Indiana.

Understanding what the one-bite rule in Indiana truly means is pivotal for dog owners and dog bite victims alike. It's essential to clarify that this rule doesn't provide a "free" bite for dogs with no consequences.

Identifying Aggressive Behaviors

Signs of aggressive behavior in dogs might include loud growling or barking at passersby, snapping teeth, or charging rapidly at someone. Such behaviors could strengthen a dog bite claim, demonstrating the owner's potential knowledge of the dog's aggressive tendencies.

On the other hand, Indiana dog bite laws also include the concept of strict liability, especially in cases involving government workers.

Under this premise, a dog owner becomes strictly liable for an Indiana dog bite incident if the victim acted peacefully and performed duties required by state or federal law at the time of the bite. Examples of such individuals include postal workers or police officers.

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Whether the legal discourse involves strict liability, negligence, or the biting rule, understanding Indiana's one-bite law remains central to resolving these legal cases.

It helps determine the course of the dog bite lawsuit, holds the dog's owner accountable when necessary, and offers a clear path for both victims and owners in the complex maze of Indiana laws.

Essentially, in Indiana's one-bite rule, the key factor is the owner's awareness of their dog's behavior and their attempts to prevent a possible attack.

Therefore, an owner's negligence can turn an otherwise simple incident into a significant legal dispute, making it critical for both parties to seek advice from an Indiana dog bite law firm to navigate this complex legal territory.

Unique Protections for Postal Workers and Police Officers from Dog Bites

Navigating the nuances of dog bite laws is vital, especially for postal carriers and police officers, who are often the primary victims of such incidents. Indiana law shields these public employees when fulfilling their roles, offering unique legal protection even if a dog has no previous record of aggression.

The one-bite rule usually requires a dog to have shown earlier signs of hostility for the dog owner to be held accountable. However, the circumstances are different for those public workers covered under the Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3.

A postal worker or police officer bitten by a dog while doing their duties can bring a dog bite case against the dog's owner, regardless of the dog's history.

Nonetheless, these protections do not extend to private delivery workers. Understanding and leveraging these dog bite statutes is crucial in these types of incidents.

Moreover, a delivery worker victim needs to gather the appropriate evidence to make the dog owner liable for the dog bite injury.

Victims need to be aware that this particular rule applies only to dog bites in Indiana and provides specific benefits for those who are acting in accordance with federal law, state law, or postal regulations.

Key Defenses in Indiana Dog Bite Cases

Maneuvering through these cases often brings into play several core defenses.

One-bite Rule Defenses

Three primary arguments can sway the outcome of a dog bite case governed by the one-bite rule:

  • The dog displayed no prior aggression.

  • Someone provoked the dog.

  • The pet bit an intruder unlawfully on the owner's property.

Strict Liability Defenses

In contrast, strict liability cases offer fewer defenses. These usually revolve around disputing whether the dog bit the claimant, arguing that the person injured was trespassing, or asserting that the dog was provoked.

Comparative Negligence Defense

Another common defense tactic is claiming comparative negligence. This strategy argues that the dog bite injury occurred partly due to the victim's actions, potentially reducing the damages awarded.

Under Indiana law, a crucial aspect to note is the two-year limit to file a dog bite case. Failing to meet this deadline could result in a dismissed case.

Damages in These Legal Cases

Damages in These Legal Cases

When Indiana dog bites occur, the victim may be entitled to compensation through the judicial system. The kind of compensation varies, covering both tangible and intangible damages.

  • Tangible damages: These include the financial losses incurred due to the incident, such as medical bills related to the treatment of the bite wound or other injuries. It also covers lost income due to absence from work while recovering and even loss of future earning potential if the damage is severe enough to impair the ability to work.

  • Intangible damages: This category reflects the psychological and emotional costs, including pain, suffering, and the impact of any trauma or lasting fears on the quality of life.

Furthermore, when a tragic fatality results from dog bites, the deceased's family has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Indiana, seeking justice and compensation. The dog bite victim can seek economic and non-economic damages in these cases through these means.

Final Thoughts

Comprehending the legal intricacies surrounding dog attacks in Indiana, particularly the awareness of the dog owner and any potential criminal liability, can appear daunting. This can be especially true when dealing with Indiana's one-bite law, a legal doctrine that can greatly influence the outcome of such incidents. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions like, "Do hospitals report dog bites in Indiana?"

When an individual is subjected to an aggressive encounter with a dog, navigating these legal hurdles can be immensely challenging. However, they need not confront these issues single-handedly.

The professional team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is equipped with specialized knowledge and seasoned experience. Its invaluable expertise offers guidance to victims on their journey through this complex legal maze of dog bites.


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