A dog bite can result in severe injury and even disability, representing tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. If you are in this situation, you may struggle to pay your health care costs associated with the injury, especially if you are temporarily unable to work.

In Indiana, you may be able to sue the dog’s owner for expenses associated with the attack.

The one-bite rule

In general, the state court will not hold a dog owner liable for a bite injury unless he or she knew the animal had behaved aggressively in the past. This is often called the “one-bite rule.” If the dog has no history of attack, the owner’s attorney can argue that he or she did not act negligently in a first-time bite incident. However, Indiana law always holds a dog owner liable if the animal bites a U.S. mail carrier or anyone else fulfilling a state or federal government duty.

Extenuating circumstances

The dog’s owner can argue that you are partially at-fault for the incident. For example, he or she may state that you provoked the animal. If you were on another person’s property without permission, the court will not find the owner liable for a resulting dog attack. In certain cases, a dog’s owner can receive both criminal and civil charges after an attack. This includes instances when the owner fails to restrain the dog and it enters another person’s property where the bite occurs.

When the dog has a history of aggressive behavior and the bite occurred in public or at a private location outside the dog owner’s home, you may have a personal injury case. To successfully file a claim, you have two years from the date of the incident. Otherwise, the court will dismiss your case as being outside the statute of limitations. Possible damages in Indiana include both economic costs such as medical bills and lost wages and non-economic costs such as pain and suffering.