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Does every dog get a free bite?

The saying, "every dog gets a bite" refers to a traditional notion in the law that, before a dog actually bites anyone, an owner cannot be expected to know his or her animal is dangerous and thus cannot financially accountable for the pet's first attack on a human being.

Thankfully, though, Indiana no longer observes this rule when it comes to dog bites, as the rule had a tendency to be unfair to innocent victims of dogs who both needed and deserved financial compensation for their injuries.

Now, Indiana observes what the law calls an ordinary negligence standard when it comes to dog bites. This standard applies even when a person is on the land of another without permission but otherwise innocently. The ordinary negligence standard assumes an owner knows his or her dog well enough to recognize when the dog is a bite risk and also will take the necessary precautions to prevent the dog from getting violent with a person. If an owner fails in his or her duty to take reasonable precautions, then he or she may owe compensation for any injuries the dog inflicts on another human being.

In fact, in Indiana, some dog owners are subject under the law to what is called "strict liability" for a dog bite. What "strict liability" means in this context is that a dog owner is responsible to pay compensation if his or her dog bites a person, even if the owner took all reasonable safety measures to prevent a dog bite. While strict liability only applies to victims who were attacked while peacefully performing their legal duties on a piece of property, it does apply without regard to whether a dog has bitten anyone before.

Basically, it is not true that every dog in Indiana gets a free bite before a victim can file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. Someone who has been injured by a dog in New Albany, Indiana may therefore want to consider seeking compensation for his or her injuries.

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The Law Office of Nick Stein

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