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Dog Bites and Indiana Leash Laws

Man’s best friend serves us in many different ways. They are companions, guides, and trusted protectors for many Americans. These animals do not come without the need for caution, however. When it comes down to it, they are animals and follow instinct above all else. Dog bites are serious and can cause a great deal of harm, so it makes sense that most states have laws holding owners accountable should their dog attack someone.

In this blog, we discuss both the laws that hold owners accountable in the event of a dog bite, as well as the laws put in place to keep any bites from happening.

Leash Laws in Indiana

There is no statewide law that requires owners to keep their dogs on a leash. Rather, town, city, and county governments enact their own leash regulations for citizens to follow. Though there are some exceptions such as in a designated leash-free dog park, the majority of municipalities in Indiana require dogs to be on a leash if they are anywhere besides the owner’s private property. That includes sidewalks, parks, and any public place that other citizens might visit.

As an example, Fort Wayne’s leash law states as follows:

“All animals shall be properly restrained as defined in this chapter. The chapter describes a restraint as being “secured by a leash or lead and under the physical control of the animal’s owner or attending party, or confined within the exterior boundaries of the owner’s or harborer’s real property.”

In contrast, the nearby city of Huntington does not have a leash law but instead outlines that it is illegal to own, keep, or harbor a “dangerous animal.” The ordinance defines a “dangerous animal” as one that has “without sufficient provocation bitten or attacked a person and/or another animal, or property” or has done so more than once. This means that a dog will be considered a dangerous animal after no more than one serious injury.

Dog Bite Laws in Indiana

If you are bitten by someone else’s dog in Indiana you can sue for damages which include pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. However, Indiana is one of the few U.S. states that have what’s called the one-bite rule. This rule states that an owner will not be held accountable for the attack if it is the dog’s first offense.

This rule’s requirement can be satisfied by proving that the dog has previously attacked someone, or the owner knew of their dog’s aggressive behavior. Even if the owner claims to have no knowledge of aggressive behavior, you might still be able to sue for negligence.

A dog owner who knows their animal exhibits aggressive behavior must take the appropriate measures to keep an attack from taking place. In many cases, the municipality’s leash laws will come into play here. Was the dog on a leash? The defendant may use the local government’s leash laws to their advantage and pursue negligence even if the owner claims to have no idea of their dog’s aggressive behavior.

It’s important to keep in mind that Indiana’s one-bite rule does not apply to postal workers or members of law enforcement. If an unprovoked dog bites a postal worker or law enforcement officer on public property or anywhere they are required to be to fulfill their duties, the owner will be strictly held responsible for any damages.

Some defenses may hold up in court which will result in losing a case. For example, if you were trespassing at the time that the attack took place, it is unlikely you will win your case. In a similar manner, if you are found to have provoked the animal which led to a bite, you will almost certainly lose your case.

Indiana leash and bite laws can be quite complicated, so anyone dealing with a dog bite should reach out to a trusted Indiana lawyer to assist with their case.

For expert legal guidance in Indiana, contact Crossen Law Firm. We’ve helped numerous Indiana residents build a successful case. Call our office at 317-401-8626, or you can contact us online here.