According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, serious dog bites account for nearly 334,000 visits to the hospital emergency room each year. The Center for Disease Control recently reported that dog bites have become more common in recent years. In 2004, the insurance industry paid at least $1 billion for claims resulting from animal bites. The injury lawyers at the Sweeney Law Firm aggressively pursues animal attack victims' rights to compensation. Dog bite injuries are extremely painful. Children are at face level with dogs, and they are often bitten on the face, resulting in lifelong scars and emotional trauma. Plastic surgery to treat animal attack injuries can be very expensive. Many dog bite victims require counseling to cope with the psychological trauma of the attack.
In the last few years, Indiana courts have significantly expanded the rights of animal attack victims to recover compensation for their injuries. Under Indiana law, a dog bite victim must prove that the owner had previous knowledge that the dog had a “dangerous propensity.” The term “dangerous propensity” is the tendency of the dog to do something that might endanger the safety of persons in a given situation. For example, if the owner of a 70-pound dog knows that his dog tends to jump on other people, that’s a dangerous propensity.
Under Indiana law, a dog bite victim is not required to prove that the dog has “bitten before” in order to prove that the dog had a dangerous propensity. The owner of a dog is obligated to know the natural tendencies of the particular class of animals to which the animal belongs, and if those tendencies are the kind that might cause injury, the owner has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injury from occurring. For example, the owner of a Rottweiler or a pit bull has a duty to foresee that these particular breeds have a propensity to attack and bite without warning. A dog owner has a duty to know the propensity of all dogs to be dangerous when surprised. The owner or keeper of an animal has a duty to provide for restraining and confinement of the animal. Indiana courts have imposed liability on owners who fail to restrain dogs on leashes, ropes, or chains or failed to prevent children from coming into contact with a dog.
It is critical for animal attack victims to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the attack occurs. The most important thing for an attorney to do is to evaluate the dog as soon as possible after the attack. If the owner destroys the dog or gets rid of the dog, it’s much more difficult to prove that the dog was aggressive. The best proof of a dog’s aggressive tendencies is the dog itself.
The Sweeney Law Firm conducts a detailed investigation in every animal attack case that we accept. The earlier that we are hired, the more thoroughly we can uncover the facts and evidence that support your claim. When you hire the Sweeney Law Firm to handle your personal injury claim arising out of an animal attack, we will:
- Evaluate the dog;
- Interview the dog owner;
- Interview the veterinarian and obtain the veterinarian records on the dog;
- If the city or county “animal control” department is involved in the case, we will interview the animal control officers and obtain the animal control records;
- Interview the dog groomer;
- Interview neighbors of the dog; and
- Inspect and photograph the scene of the attack.
The First Step in Pursing an Animal Attack Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an animal attack, call the Sweeney Law Firm now at (866) 793-6339 or submit the case form below. The initial consultation is free, and if we agree to accept your case, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a settlement or recovery of funds. There is no reason to hesitate. Contact us today for a free initial evaluation of your case.