When Dogs Bite

Like most people with beating hearts, the employees at the Marc Lopez Law Firm love dogs. After all, they’re loyal, they’re loving, and they’re always excited to see you. As you may have noticed, however, our canine friends are also equipped with relatively small brains and almost no innate interest in human etiquette. Sometimes dogs aren’t able to read the room and can’t understand what’s expected of them. Sometimes they bite.

According to the Center for Disease Control, this happens more often than you might think. An (admittedly dated) study found that more than 4,500,000 dog bites occur in the United States each year. Of these victims, the CDC estimates that almost one in five requires medical attention. If you’re a dog-owner, it’s important to understand what kind of liability you can be facing.

Good doggy.

In Indiana, an owner is tasked with taking reasonable care to prevent his or her dog from causing injuries. This is a flexible standard, because not all dogs call for the same type of handling (what’s reasonable for a 10-pound pug might not be reasonable for an 80-pound Rottweiler). If a visitor enters onto your property and gets bitten as a result, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will likely have you covered. If, however, your dog leaves your property and bites someone, you can be facing a Class C misdemeanor. The charges can increase in severity depending on aggravating factors (e.g. prior convictions; whether the attack resulted in serious bodily injury or death).

If, on the other hand, you’re the one who’s bitten, it’s important to seek medical attention. If the skin has been broken, stitches may be required to close the wound, and professional treatment can help to prevent infection. Remember: One of the easiest ways to sabotage your personal injury case is avoiding medical treatment or declining to follow professional advice.

When you’re on the wrong end of a dog’s teeth, you’re allowed to recover non-economic damages (pain and suffering) in addition to medical expenses. There could also be serious consequences for the dog and its owner, as the Court can potentially order the animal to be euthanized. If you find yourself in a situation like this—as an owner or a victim—it’s important to find an experienced attorney to help handle your case. Attorney Matthew Kroes knows a thing or two about dog bites—both as a litigator and as a victim. Call 317-632-3642 for a free consultation.