Statistics show that more than one-third of American households own a dog. They’re wonderful companions, affectionate and entertaining, and often serious about protecting their people and property from threats of intrusion. This territorial characteristic accounts for some of the dog bites suffered by millions of people each year. Frequently, however, dog attacks are unprovoked and happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs during a 12-month period, and almost 900,000 of those bites require medical treatment. In fact, in 2012, more than 27,000 people were bitten so severely that they required reconstructive surgery.
Dog Bites in Indiana
Dog bites are a problem in every state. State Farm Insurance Company ranks Indiana No.7 on its list of states with the most dog bite claims. In 2012, that insurer alone paid out $2.7 million to dog bite victims in Indiana.
If you or a family member has been attacked by a dog, the Indianapolis dog bite lawyers at McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold can help you obtain compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering. Call Mike Stephenson at 855-206-2555 to begin the process of holding the dog’s owner responsible for the actions of his pet.
Indiana Dog Bite Laws
Indiana law holds dog owners strictly liable for an unprovoked dog attack on a person who is acting peaceably. This is true even if the dog had never before shown itself to be vicious or if the owner had no idea that the dog might attack.
All animal bites must be investigated in Indiana. A doctor who treats a dog bite injury is required to report it within 72 hours after the incident. This is primarily to prevent the spread of rabies.
Some communities in Indiana have passed ordinances restricting or banning pit bulls, as this is the breed responsible for the highest number of attacks. Those cities are East Chicago, Fowler, Gary, Merrillville, and Mishawaka.
Dog Bite Wounds
Most dog bite injuries consist of puncture wounds, scratches and abrasions. However, severe attacks may produce crushing injuries to bones, especially in children, as well as deep tissue and nerve damage, scarring and disfigurement. Infection is always possible; more than 30 species of bacteria and at least one virus have been isolated from dog or cat bite wounds.
Dog bites occur most commonly to the victim’s extremities (arm, hand, leg or foot) or to the head or neck. Understandably, because of their small stature, children under age 4 are most often bitten on the head and neck. Statistics from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control show that in the period from 2003 to 2012, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14.
Vicious dog attacks can also lead to a horrifying death. In 2013, dog attacks killed 18 children and 14 adults in the U.S. More than one-third of these victims were visiting or living temporarily with the dog’s owner when the fatal attack occurred.