Understanding Indiana Dog Bite Laws

Rachel N. Woloshin

Author: Rachel N. Woloshin

POST DATE: 9.17.20
Ccha  Personal Injury

Fall is upon us and long dog walks are in our future. In the event you or a loved one get bit by a dog, it is important to know that you have rights. Dog owners are responsible to train and control their dog in a manner that protects others from an attack. In this post, CCHA walks you through Indiana laws regarding dog bites and your options as a victim.

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“One Bite Rule”

In the state of Indiana, our dog bite laws are such that you’ll first want to know and understand our state’s “One Bite Rule”. Under this rule, a dog owner may be held liable for damages related to dog bites if the owner knew or should have known the dog was likely to attack or bite others without being provoked. However, the “One Bite Rule” does not apply if the dog, without provocation, attacks an individual carrying out a duty of law, such as a postal worker.


“One Bite Rule” aside, negligence is also a claim worth considering in some dog bite cases. A negligence claim focuses on the owner’s failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing injury, rather than focusing on the owner’s prior knowledge or the dog’s history. Proving negligence depends on the specific situation, such as if a dog was off-leash in a leash-only area, or if the owner failed to keep the dog confined to their property. The personal injury attorneys at CCHA can help you handle these complex matters, as navigating the law can feel intimidating or daunting to most, especially when injury is involved.

Statute of Limitations

A dog bite victim has two years to file a lawsuit with the court in the state of Indiana, a time frame that applies to many other personal injury claims. If a lawsuit is not filed within the 2-year period, it is unlikely the court will hear your case.

Compensation for Dog Bite Cases

Depending on the specific situation, damages resulting from a dog bite injury are often paid by an insurance company. For example, a dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, in most instances, will cover liability and pay damages that result from an attack that occurred on the owner’s property. Damages can vary depending on the severity of the dog bite injuries, but can include medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with the attack and treatment.

Potential Outcomes for Owners

Depending on the scenario, a dog owner can also be charged criminally for the attack. Below are some potential criminal outcomes for the owners whose dog attacks another person or animal:

An owner may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor (up to 60 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines) if:

  • The owner recklessly or knowingly fails to take reasonable steps to restrain their dog;
  • The dog then enters another party's property; and
  • As a result, the dog bites or attacks another person (without provocation), causing bodily injury.

A Class B Misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines) could be in play, if the person has been convicted under this section before or the attack results in serious bodily injury.

For a Level 6 felony (6 months to 2.5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000), the dog owner must recklessly violate this section and the attack must result in a person's death.

At a Level 5 felony (1 to 6 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines) an owner intentionally or knowingly violates this section and it results in a person's death.

If you or a loved one was injured by a dog attack, contact the personal injury attorneys at CCHA. We will help seek justice, prove negligence by using details from your attack, and earn compensation for your injuries and treatment.