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legalgems
legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Hypothetically my dog snapped at someone and broke the skin.

Customer Question

Hypothetically my dog snapped at someone and broke the skin. They checked his records at the vet and he was fine. No report was made to Animal Control by anyone. When he left the vet he said he was just going home. Now I receive a bill for an urgent care visit. His insurance paid $175 of the $190. He expects the whole thing but it was never reported to anyone. Am I liable for that bill?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

So his out of pocket was only $15?

Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Basically a person is liable for the negligence of their action, or of their property (pets are considered property). Negligence is defined as a failure to perform with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but may consist of omissions when there is some duty to act. This cause of action has 5 elements: the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care; a failure to exercise reasonable care; harm caused by the negligent conduct; physical harm of actual damages; and proximate cause (reasonably foreseeable damages). So generally the damages would be the plaintiff''s out of pocket expenses, and possibly pain and suffering (if there was physical injury the judge is allowed to add this on as damages) and even punitives (designed to punish the defendant and deter third parties from similar conduct/omissions, and usually reserved for cases involving malice)

It is not necessary for a person to report a complaint to Animal Control in order to prevail in a civil suit; basically the plaintiff would need to prove that the person was bit, and that defendant's dog was the culprit; then the court will typically allow damages. Unless insurance seeks indemnification (reimbursement) generally actual damages will be limited to the actual out of pocket expenses paid by the plaintiff, otherwise it creates a "windfall" to the plaintiff. The idea is to restore the plaintiff to the position s/he would have been in but for the negligent act/omission.

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Further questions? Please post here to continue the chat.

Satisfied? Kindly rate positively so I receive credit for assisting you. I hope that you feel I have earned

5 stars *****

as I strive to provide my customers with great service.

(no additional charges are incurred).

Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff- clear and convincing proof- so if the plaintiff cannot prove to the satisfaction of the judge that the dog bit the plaintiff, judgment will not be entered for the plaintiff.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
The dog was restrained. I was present. I took all normal care to keep dog away from other people. This man was on a bike. He admitted he saw the dog. At the scene he stated he thought he had enough room to get past the dog on his line. It was a fork in the road..we had started to go left. The bike :chose" to go near the dog and spooked the dog so he snapped. As soon as the man yelled the dog wanted back in the truck. He did not even bark at the man. Yes his out of pocket was $15
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Thank you; Indiana has a negligence per se for dogs without a leash, so that would not be applicable (that makes the owner liable whenever the dog is not on a leash).

This is governed by statute 15-5-12 and basically the court will look to see if the owner was negligent. As stated in Plesha v. Edmonds ex rel Edmonds (1999) 717 NE2d 981, a dog owner is expected to exercise reasonable care and the court will look to see if the owner was otherwise negligent in his manner of controlling the dog; so if the court determines that the dog owner was not negligent, and that the plaintiff in fact was negligent, then the court would deny damages.

It is possible to attempt to offer to pay out of pocket damages in exchange for a release in order to avoid the hassle of having to worry about possibly defending a lawsuit in the future since the statute of limitations for negligence for personal injury is 2 years from the date of occurrence according to code 34-11-2-4(a)(1).

Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Hi- just checking in to see if you needed clarification on any of the above information. If so please post here (there is no additional charge for this) and I will do my best to get you the requested information.

Thank you!