Over 75 million dogs live in the United States, and these animals are generally referred to as “man's best friend.” What most people do not realize, however, is that dogs inflict a large amount of injury to children, adults and elderly people every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the United States. This number is thought to be low, as approximately 880,000 victims seek emergency medical care at hospitals every year because of dog bites.
While some dog bites may cause minor scratches or bleeding, other bites can result in the need for reconstructive surgery. If the victim is a young child or an elderly person, the bite may even lead to death. It is clear that these injuries are not to be overlooked, and recovering some kind of compensation may be necessary to cover the medical bills that can result from a dog bite.
Types Of Dog Bite Injuries
Depending on the type of dog and the force behind the attack, a dog bite can cause lacerations, punctures, nerve damage, sprain and strain of muscles, infection and crush injuries. It is important to seek medical treatment immediately after a bite in case of infections such as rabies, cellulitis, C. canimorsus and others. Children tend to be the main victims of these injuries, and facial reconstruction surgery may be required. As these surgeries tend to be costly, it is important to seek compensation through a claim against the owner of the dog.
Indiana Dog Bite Law
If you are looking to file a claim against the owner of the dog that attacked you or your loved one, you must first have an understanding of your rights under Indiana dog bite law. Even though Indiana is a strict liability state, this liability is limited and rests on three possible grounds: negligence, the “one bite rule” and strict liability when the victim is carrying out a legal duty.
A case that involves negligence, for example, would occur when an owner allowed a dog to stray away from their property without a person in reasonable control of the dog. Every dog owner has a legal duty to keep a dog under reasonable care and control, even if the owner is not aware of vicious tendencies in the dog. Forgetting to leash one's dog may qualify under negligence per se if the violation was a cause of the attack.
The one bite rule shields dog owners from liability for some dog bites, but it also imposes liability for other types of dog bites. If your case was the first injury caused by that specific dog, the dog owner and everyone else connected to the dog will be protected from liability. If the dog had previously bit someone or previously caused harm, then the dog owner and keepers will be held strictly liable for the dog bites. Keep in mind that, if the victim provoked the dog or assumed the risk of liability, these rules will not apply.
Who Will Pay The Damages?
In dog bite cases involving children, statistics show that there is a 75% chance that the dog owner is a family member or friend of the family. If this describes your situation, you may be worrying about who will pay for your damages because you don't want to burden a family member. Even if a family member is technically liable, the damages will usually be paid by the homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, landlord's insurance, commercial general liability insurance or another type of insurance.
To learn more about how the law protects you and your family, don't hesitate to contact me, attorney Marc Sedwick, at SedwickLaw, PC. Schedule a consultation at my firm, SedwickLaw, PC, to get the reliable answers you are seeking.