What to Do After a Dog Bite: Legal Guidance for Indianapolis Victims

Dog bites are no joke. They can lead to serious physical injuries, emotional scars, and unexpected bills. If you’re in Indianapolis and find yourself in this unfortunate situation, knowing your legal options can make a world of difference. 

We’re here to guide you through the steps you need to take and the legal avenues available to you, ensuring you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Understanding the complexities of dog bite laws, knowing how to gather evidence, and having the right legal support can be the keys to recovering not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well.

Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Indiana

Indiana has a unique approach to dog bite laws, blending strict liability with negligence rules. This “one-bite” rule implies that a dog owner can be held responsible if they knew or should have known their dog was prone to aggression. Essentially, the state holds dog owners strictly liable if their pet bites someone lawfully on their property or in public. 

This means owners are automatically at fault under these conditions, regardless of the dog’s history. The complexity of Indiana’s laws means that victims need to be aware of the specific legal standards that apply to their cases.

It’s essential to understand terms like “dangerous dog” and “provocation.” A dangerous dog is typically one that has previously shown aggressive behavior or has been involved in prior biting incidents. Provocation refers to actions that might incite a dog to attack, such as teasing or threatening behavior towards the animal. 

These definitions can significantly influence your case’s outcome, making it critical to be well-informed before pursuing legal action. For instance, if the dog was provoked, the owner’s liability might be reduced or negated entirely.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

First things first, if a dog bites you, seek medical attention immediately. Dog bites can lead to nasty infections, including rabies, tetanus, and severe bacterial infections, so getting treated as soon as possible is crucial. Even seemingly minor bites can become serious if not properly cared for. 

Once you’re safe and sound, report the incident to local authorities or animal control. This step is vital as it documents the event, helping to prevent future bites by the same dog. Authorities can also ensure that the dog is quarantined and checked for diseases.

Next, gather as much evidence as possible. Snap photos of your injuries, the scene, and the dog if you can. Get contact information from any witnesses too. Detailed evidence will support your claim and provide a clear picture of what happened. 

Filing a Dog Bite Claim

Filing a claim involves several steps. Start by consulting an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to discuss and understand your options.

They will evaluate the strength of your case, advise you on the best course of action, and handle negotiations with insurance companies and opposing lawyers, ensuring you get a fair settlement. 

The legal process can be daunting, but an experienced lawyer will manage the paperwork and legal deadlines for you. They will help you file the necessary paperwork within Indiana’s statute of limitations, typically two years from the date of the bite. Missing this deadline can mean losing your right to seek compensation.

Once your claim is filed, your lawyer will negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company to secure a fair settlement. This negotiation process can be lengthy and complex, and if negotiations fall through, the case may go to court.

Preparing for court involves gathering more evidence, preparing witnesses, and developing a legal strategy to present your case effectively.

Potential Compensation for Dog Bite Victims

Victims of dog bites may be entitled to various forms of compensation. Medical expenses, covering emergency care, surgeries, medications, and ongoing treatments, are usually the most immediate concern. These costs can quickly add up, especially if the injury requires long-term care or rehabilitation. 

Compensation for lost wages is also essential, especially if the injury has impacted your ability to work. This includes the time you missed immediately after the injury and any long-term impacts on your earning capacity.

Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, compensate for your physical and emotional distress. This can be harder to quantify but is an important part of your recovery. In cases of gross negligence, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the dog owner and deter similar behavior in the future. These damages are designed to send a message that reckless behavior will not be tolerated. Compensation amounts can vary widely based on the severity of the injuries, the impact on your daily life, and other factors. 

Your lawyer will help estimate a fair compensation amount based on these variables and advocate vigorously to secure it. They will take into account the long-term implications of your injuries and work to ensure that you are fully compensated for all your losses.

Defenses Used by Dog Owners

Dog owners often use several defenses to avoid liability. A common one is provocation, where the owner argues that you provoked the dog into attacking. This can include actions like teasing the dog or invading its space. 

Trespassing is another, where the owner claims you were illegally on their property at the time of the bite. If you were not lawfully present, this defense could limit or eliminate the owner’s liability.

Assumption of risk is a defense where the owner argues that you knowingly exposed yourself to the risk of being bitten. This might apply in situations where you were aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies but interacted with it anyway. 

Understanding these defenses helps prepare for counterarguments and strengthens your case.


Dog bite injuries can have lasting effects, but victims have legal options to seek justice and compensation. By understanding Indiana’s dog bite laws, taking immediate action, and working with a skilled personal injury lawyer, you can navigate the legal process more effectively and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. 

It’s important to act quickly and decisively to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.