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Dog Bite Child Law: What You Need to Know

Dangerous dog attacks and vicious dog bites can be traumatic experiences for anyone, but they can be especially traumatizing and tragic when children are involved. Common dog bite injuries cause trauma for the child and it can be scary and overwhelming for the parent as well. Dog Bites Child Law can be tricky but our lawyers are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.

No parent wants to imagine their child being attacked and bitten by a dangerous dog, but no matter what you do to protect them from dangerous dogs, these incidents still happen—especially when the attack is the result of a negligent dog owner’s liability.

If a dangerous dog bites a child in Indiana, our team of compassionate Indianapolis dog bite attorneys at Crossen Law Firm can help. Call us at (317) 401-8626 today.

Why Do Dangerous Dogs Bite Children More Often?

More than 4.5 million people are attacked and bitten by dogs each year in America, on both public and private property over half of which are children.

dog bites child law

Reasons children are more likely to be involved in a situation where the dog injures them:

  • Children don’t understand how to behave around dogs.
  • Children can’t tell when the animal’s owner is reliable and responsible.
  • Children play with dogs in a way that the dog might misinterpret as aggressive.
  • Children can get very excited around dogs, which can scare or overwhelm the animal.
  • Children do not know how to easily recognize cues that a dog might be aggressive or anxious.
  • Children cannot distinguish non-aggressive dog breeds from those with a vicious propensity.

Five Common Injuries Resulting from Dogs Biting Children

Animal bites on children’s faces, for example, are especially common because young children often stick their faces in the face of dogs because they’re unaware of a dog’s dangerous propensities.

Consequently, children are more susceptible to suffering severe injuries that can have lasting impacts, and proving an owner’s negligence is key to recovering compensation from the dog owner.

Below are the most prevalent issues experienced by dog bite victims:

Infections: Children may be exposed to life-threatening infections as a result of dog bites. Seek medical attention to prevent the escalation of infections, even if the dog owner provides proof of immunizations.

Scars and Disfigurement: Many children suffer bites on their faces and heads, leading to permanent scarring and disfigurement.


Crushing Injuries: Bites can cause crushing injuries, including severe fractures of bones and damage to soft tissues and muscles.

Nerve Damage: Severe damage or injury occurs to soft tissues and muscles during a domestic animal bite can extend to nerves, limiting a child’s mobility.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Dog-related injuries are traumatic experiences for children, leading to potential long-term injuries that could have been prevented easily by a responsible dog owner obeying their state’s leash law.

Vicious Dog Bites Have Serious Consequences

Children are also much more likely to develop PTSD after being attacked and bitten by a dog, which can lead to long-term psychological problems that can hinder development.

In the most severe cases, a serious injury can lead to life-threatening complications and death of the injured person. 

How to Prevent Dog Bites in Children

While a dog’s owner in Indiana can be held strictly liable for injuries and have a duty to restrain their dog, it’s important for parents with young children to also do what they can to prevent these incidents from happening.

Tips to prevent potentially dangerous dog- attacks and dog bites in children include:

Do not let your child hug or kiss a dog.

Don’t reach through or over a fence to pet a dog.

Always supervise young children when they are around ANY dog.

Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog without the dog’s owner’s knowledge.

Teach your child to listen when a dog owner says not to approach their dog.

Help your child identify when a dog is being aggressive or wants to be left alone.

Teach your child not to mess with a dog when it is sleeping, eating, sick, or injured.

What to Do If Your Child is Bitten By a Dog in Indiana

A dog attack can be a traumatic event for you and your child. Emotions run high and in the moment, it can be hard to think about gathering the evidence needed to prove the dog owner’s negligence. However, the steps you take following a dangerous dog attack play a crucial role in your child’s recovery.

dog bites child law

It’s important to act quickly to protect your child’s health, secure their legal right to compensation, and document evidence that proves the dog owner was at fault for the dog bites.

When someone’s dog bites your child, follow the recommended steps for medical attention, document the incident, and seek legal advice to help secure the best possible outcome for your dog bite case.

If your child is bitten by a dangerous dog, you should:

Call 9-1-1 immediately if the dog bites happen and injuries are severe or take the dog bite victim to an emergency room yourself if you can.

Report the animal attack to the police (and call your local animal control, if the dogs are roaming free without the dog owners around).

Identify the dog owner’s property name (and where the other dog owner or dog owners live if they’re not present).

Collect contact information for the dog owners and witnesses.

Request the dog’s vaccination records and what vet their vaccination records will be at.

Take photos of the injuries caused and anything else that might be relevant to what happened, such as a broken gate that the dog escaped through.

Contact a dog bite claim attorney to help you file the serious dog bite injury claims and recover compensation.

What Are Indiana’s Dog Laws?

Indiana, like many other states, grapples with a considerable number of dog bite incidents annually, a topic frequently addressed in our law firm.

Incidents, whether involving a familiar pet or an unfamiliar domestic animal, can result in severe injuries, emotional distress, and occasionally tragic fatalities, imposing a significant economic burden on affected individuals.

To safeguard its residents, Indiana has implemented specific dog bite laws designed to hold dog owners accountable for serious injuries sustained in an attack by domestic animals.

Below we highlight the key elements of laws related to domestic animals, providing insights to help you protect your rights and pursue rightful economic compensation.

Overview of Indiana’s Dog Bite Statute

Indiana’s primary legislation addressing dog bites is outlined in Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3. According to this statute, if a dog bites a person without provocation, while the dog-injured party is acting peaceably and is in a legally permitted location, the dog’s owner may be held strictly liable for any damages suffered by the bitten individual.

Notably, Indiana’s dog bite law operates under a “strict liability” framework.

This ” strict liability” implies that the dog’s owner may be held accountable for serious injuries a dangerous dog caused, even in the absence of awareness or prior knowledge regarding the dog’s aggressive tendencies or a demonstration of negligence in controlling the animal.

Exceptions and Strict Liability Scope

While Indiana’s strict liability dog bite law offers protection, certain exceptions exist. The strict liability law primarily applies when the dog is not confined or restrained, and the bite results in injury.

Additionally, if the owner knew the bite victim provoked the dangerous dog or unlawfully entered the owner’s property, the owner is liable but may not be deemed responsible for damages.

For a thorough understanding of your specific dog bite case, seeking guidance from a local dog bite lawyer is recommended.

Landlord Liability in Dog Bite Cases

In specific scenarios of the one bite rule, Indiana extends strict liability for dog bite incidents to landlords. A landlord might be held strictly liable for injuries made under the one-bite rule. To prove the owner is strictly liable by proving they were aware of a tenant’s dog posing a danger to others and failed to take preventive measures to prevent injuries caused by a dog’s dangerous propensities.

Proving the dog owner has knowledge is particularly relevant if the landlord maintains control over the area where the dog bite occurred, aligning with premises liability laws in Indiana.

Proving strict liability for dog injuries is easier when your attorney can prove the property owner knew about the one bite rule for private property regulations related to owner liability.

Comparative Fault in Dog Bite Incidents

Indiana employs a “comparative fault” system in personal injury cases, including dangerous dog bites, under the Indiana Comparative Fault Act.

If the injured person or party shares partial responsibility, such as provoking the attacking dog, any awarded compensation to the injured dog bite victim or person could be reduced proportionally based on their degree of fault.

Implications of Severe Injuries and Wrongful Death

In unfortunate instances where dangerous dog bite incidents lead to severe injuries or fatalities, families may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim under Indiana’s statutes (Indiana Code § 34-23-1-1).

This allows a representative of the deceased, typically a close family member, to seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and emotional trauma associated with the tragic loss.

Understanding Indiana’s dog bite laws is crucial when navigating a dog bite incident, especially if you intend to file a dog bite claim to seek compensation.

Types of Compensation Dog Owners Pay to Victims

When a child is bitten by a dog, various types of compensation may be available to address the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of the incident.

The specific compensation options vary based on your circumstances, the applicable state dog bite laws, and the requirements to prove the owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog attack.

Here are some common types of compensation when an owner is liable for injuries caused:

Current Medical Expenses: Coverage for immediate medical care, including emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, and any necessary follow-up treatments. These can be extensive when your child suffers head trauma or broken bones.

Future Medical Bills: Compensation to cover the costs of anticipated future medical treatments, surgeries, or therapies that may be required due to the lasting effects of the dog bite.

Rehabilitation Expenses: Costs, such as physical therapy, to address injuries and promote recovery.

Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and suffering emotional distress experienced by the child as a result of the dog bite. Consideration for any long-term psychological effects, including anxiety, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Scarring and Disfigurement: Damages for visible scars or disfigurement resulting from the dog bite, especially if it requires plastic surgery or leaves permanent marks. This is common with broken bones and deep punctures.

Lost Earnings: If the child’s injuries result in the parents or guardians needing to take time off work to care for the child, compensation for lost wages may be sought.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Damages to compensate for the impact the incident or serious injury has on the child’s ability to enjoy life, engage in activities, or pursue hobbies.

Private Property Damage: Reimbursement for any personal belongings, private property such as clothing or accessories, that were damaged during the dog attack.

Wrongful Death Damages: In the tragic event of a child’s death due to a dog bite, compensation may be available for funeral expenses and the emotional suffering of the family.

Legal Fees and Costs: In some cases, the responsible party may be required to cover the legal fees and costs associated with pursuing a personal injury claim.

The parents or legal guardians of the injured person need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand the specific compensation options available in their jurisdiction and to navigate the legal process effectively. It’s risky to try to navigate the strict liability, one-bite rule, and every bite rule your state has.

Strict liability laws can vary, and an attorney can provide guidance tailored to your situation, especially when injured by a companion animal or law enforcement animals.

How Can an Attorney Who Understands Dog Bites Child Law Help?

Consulting with a skilled Indiana dog bite lawyer to evaluate your child’s potential case is crucial for establishing key details, including:

Liability – To seek compensation for medical expenses and additional damages, establishing a theory of strict liability is essential to demonstrate that your child is not more than 50% liable for the dog bite.

While children often bear no liability, certain factors, such as permission to be on the dog owner’s property or in the home or allegations of the child tormenting the dog, may impact the overall value of a potential claim.

Seek the guidance of an experienced dog bite attorney before communicating with the owner’s property insurance company, providing a statement, or signing any documents is advisable.

Insurance companies aim to minimize payouts, and cases involving dog bites on children may raise various strict liability concerns even when there is clear owner liability and the owner knows about the dog’s dangerous propensities.

Insurance Company – Identifying applicable coverage through a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may require a thorough investigation. An owner strictly liable might claim to be uninsured, further research may reveal that they are not the primary owner of the residence.

A proficient attorney specializing in dog bite lawsuit cases can help determine potential coverage locations by insurance companies and assess the available amounts under one or more policies.

Value – Without experience in bite injury cases involving children, individuals may lack knowledge regarding appropriate compensation expectations.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can assess the potential worth of your child’s case and ensure that future care needs, such as corrective surgery once the scar has matured, are taken into account.

Seeking legal advice is crucial to navigating the complexities and nuances associated with dog bite law.

Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyers Protecting Dog Bite Victims

If your child was bitten by a dog and suffered one of these common dog bite injuries, get in contact with someone from our team as soon as possible. Dog attack cases can be challenging, especially if there is not a lot of evidence to prove what happened.

So it’s important to file a claim and deal with the dog bit case immediately before any evidence is gone.

Our Indianapolis personal injury attorneys can review your claim, offer you guidance, ensure the dog owner was negligent, make sure the dog owner is held strictly liable for injuries caused, and help you recover a high-value settlement to help pay for your child’s injuries and other potential damages.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our Indianapolis dog bite attorneys, call (317) 401-8626 today or contact us online.