Is an Indiana dog owner liable if their animal bites someone?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2024 | Personal Injury |

A dog bite incident can be more than just terrifying. It can also be a source of significant financial setbacks. Dogs who become aggressive can cause serious physical injuries. People may have hundreds or even thousands of dollars in medical care costs after a dog bites a human.

If the injury affects a highly-visible area and causes disfiguring scar tissue, it may cost many times more to address the cosmetic and psychological consequences of disfiguring injuries than it does to simply treat the initial trauma. A dog bite attack could also potentially affect someone’s earning potential by forcing them to take a leave of absence from work or affecting their ability to work in the job they currently have.

Is the owner of an aggressive dog legally and financially responsible for any injuries it causes?

Indiana does hold pet owners responsible

In general, dog bite laws in Indiana do create liability for an animal’s owner when a dog becomes aggressive toward humans. Provided that someone did not intentionally provoke the dog, the animal’s owner might be liable when it suddenly injures a person, even if the animal has never hurt anyone before.

Especially if the interaction takes place in a location where the owner knows they have an obligation to restrain their animal, such as a public park, the liability for the incident typically falls to the owner of the animal. However, in certain scenarios, the owner might not be to blame. If they can show that someone intentionally provoked the animal or broke the law prior to the incident, then they may not be liable.

Even though the dog’s owner might be responsible for the incident, they may not have to cover the expenses directly themselves. Both homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies frequently help pay for dog bite injuries. Of course, there are scenarios in which insurance companies may not pay. If the company canceled someone’s policy or refused to cover a dog after a prior incident, someone might claim they don’t have a dog when they do to keep their rates low. Owners might also lie about the breed of animals they own, which could raise questions about insurance coverage.

In many cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary if someone hopes to recoup the expenses generated when a dog becomes aggressive toward humans. Learning more about Indiana’s personal injury and pet owner laws, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit someone injured in an incident involving a pet dog.