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Who is responsible if a dog bites me in Indiana?

People often keep dogs as pets because they enjoy their company, and, typically, dogs are friendly animals. Sometimes, however, a dog may lash out and bite someone, causing both emotional and physical damage. Who, then, is responsible in the event a dog attacks an Indiana resident?

Interestingly, in Indiana, the dog's owner may be responsible for the dog's action if the victim is required to be in the location where the bite occurred by either U.S. law, Indiana law or postal regulations. Under Indiana law, an owner includes a person who not only possesses a dog, but also harbors or otherwise keeps a dog. For an owner to be liable in such a scenario, the dog bite must have occurred without provocation from the victim, and the victim must have been acting peaceably. Even if the owner had no knowledge that the dog might behave viciously, or if the dog had never even behaved in a vicious manner, the owner may still be liable.

Additionally, it may be possible that a dog owner may be found to be criminally liable when his or her dog bites another person. Such liability may arise if a dog enters another's property after a dog owner has intentionally, knowingly or recklessly failed to take what may be considered reasonable steps to restrain his or her dog, and, subsequently, the dog attacks or bites someone without being provoked, leading to an injury.

If you have been injured by a dog bite or other animal bite, you may wish to seek legal counsel. It may be possible to pursue compensation for your injuries and medical expenses.

Source: Indiana General Assembly, "Indiana Code 15-20-1-3," accessed Dec. 4, 2015

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