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Understanding Indiana’s “one-bite rule”

| May 31, 2021 | Blog |

Many people assume that if someone else’s dog bites them, the owner of that dog is automatically responsible for their injuries. However, that is not always the case in Indiana, thanks to something known as the “one-bite rule.”

How does the one-bite rule affect compensation for injuries due to dog bites?

What is the one-bite rule?

The one-bite rule protects dog owners from liability when a dog that has never previously been aggressive bites someone. The premise of this doctrine is that owners who have no reason to suspect their dogs may bite are not guilty of negligence the first time the dog bites. However, this law does not apply to mail carriers and police officers if a dog bites them while carrying out their duties.

When does the one bite rule not apply?

In addition to the exclusion for police officers and mail carriers, dog owners can be civilly or criminally liable for a first-time dog bite if you can prove that they had reason to suspect the dog might be aggressive before the bite. Examples of evidence of aggressive tendencies include fighting with other dogs, barking or growling at passersby or charging at other persons or animals. Additionally, if the dog owner was negligent in some other way, such as allowing a dog to be off-leash in an area that requires leashes, the one-bite rule may not apply.

Indiana’s one-bite rule makes recovering damages due to a dog bite more difficult. However, dog owners can still be liable if their negligent actions lead to the bite incident.