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Who Is Liable If a Dog Attacks?

Dozens of people in the United States are killed annually in dog attacks, and about 800,000 dog bites require medical attention each year. Even when a person survives an attack, the consequences can be devastating. In 2012, there were nearly 28,000 reconstructive procedures to repair dog bites. Unfortunately, small children are most vulnerable to attacks.

Normally dog owners are held to a “negligence standard” in determining liability. This means that owners must take reasonable precautions to control the dog and protect others from harm. However, an owner who is aware of a dog’s violent propensities becomes strictly liable if the dog attacks. For example, if the animal previously bit a person, the owner is strictly liable for harm caused by the dog thereafter.

Under Indiana law, dog owners are strictly liable if their dogs bite a person who is fulfilling a duty under state, federal or postal law. Generally, owners of wild animals are also strictly liable for harm caused by them.

Prevent the Bite reports startling statistics about dog bites in the United States:

  • Dog bites are the ninth leading cause of unintentional injury to children ages five to nine, and the 10th leading cause of injury to children 10 to 14 years old.
  • More than half of all victims of dog bites are children 12 years old and under.
  • 65 percent of dog bites involving children four years old or younger are to the head and neck region.
  • Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, which equates to 536 dog bites per hour.
  • A person seeks medical attention for a dog bite every 40 seconds in the United States, and almost 70 percent are children.

If you or a loved one was the victim of a dog attack, consult the experienced personal injury attorneys at Theodoros & Rooth, P.C. for compassionate legal guidance and diligent representation.