Liability for Dog Bites
Dogs are a beloved part of our lives. We welcome them into our homes and love them as part of our families. But not all dogs are gentle and some have a history of bites and attacks. If a dog hurts or kills a child or adult, the owner may be liable.
If you have been hurt, or if a loved one has been injured or killed, in a dog bite attack contact Illinois dog bite lawyer Christopher Dixon. Our aggressive and compassionate legal representation has helped injury victims recovery millions of dollars for their injuries. Call (312) 600-8054 for a FREE Dog Bite Consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Dog Bite Statistics
Dog bites affect upwards of 4.5 million Americans each year. Over half of these bites involve children aged 5 to 9. One out of five dog bites require medical attention, and children are more likely than adults to be injured by a dog bite. In most cases, people are bitten by a dog they know.
Two-thirds of dog bites among children occur to the head and the neck, and often require plastic surgery. In 2014, over 28,000 reconstructive surgeries were done to repair damage from dog bites.
In 2013, the state of Illinois had the second highest number of dog bite claims. State Farm Insurance released these statistics in 2014, which showed 309 claims were filed in Illinois, second only to California. The claims cost over $8.9 million.
Prevention of Dog Bites
Although responsible pet ownership is critical in preventing dog bites, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent them:
- When choosing new pets, look for those with good temperaments.
- Avoid contact with dogs you do not know.
- Do not leave young children alone with a dog, especially an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not bother, touch, or try to play with a dog that is eating or feeding her puppies.
- Whenever you encounter a dog, move slowly and give the dog a chance to approach you.
- Teach children to pet dogs gently and avoid the face, head, and tail. Instruct them to ask a dog’s owner for permission to pet a dog.
- If a dog becomes aggressive, don’t run away or scream. Instead, try to stay calm, move slowly, and do not make eye contact with the dog.
While there are several things you can do to prevent dog bites, ultimately, the owner is responsible for any injuries that stem from their dog’s behavior. If a dog becomes aggressive and bites, it’s not normally the dog’s fault. Dogs who are abused, neglected, or trained to be aggressive will bite as a way to assert dominance or protect their territory. In these situations, dog owners are liable for any injuries their dogs inflict.
In more severe situations, dog bites can cause permanent disfiguration, scarring, infection, and even death. If a dog bites you or someone you love, call 911 or take them to the hospital immediately for evaluation by a medical professional.
Dog Bite Strict Liability
The legal term “strict liability” means that a person is responsible for the acts that hurt someone even if that person was not careless, reckless or negligent. Illinois law provides that the owners of any animal – including dog owners – are strictly liable for the injuries caused by their animals.
The relevant section of the Animal Control Act, Section 510 ILCS 5/16: Sec. 16 provides:
“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
Provocations and trespassing are not covered under this statute. So, while a burglar who is breaking into a home and gets attacked by a dog would not be able to make a claim under the statute since they are not lawfully on the premises, a house guest could make a claim against the dog owner for a bite. The injury doesn’t have to arise out of a bite. If the dog gets under foot and causes someone to fall or if the dog chases a bicyclist who crashes while fleeing, the dog owner is responsible for the injuries that result.
It’s important to contact an Illinois dog bite attorney as soon as possible after a bite occurs. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a dog owner is only two years after the injury occurred. This means any case not filed within two years post-bite will be thrown out, and you could lose your chance to recover damages.
Contact an Illinois Dog Bite Lawyer
In many instances, dog owners do not face harsh consequences when their dogs bite people. For example, a five-year old boy from Chicago was recently killed when a neighbor’s dog bit him in the throat and would not let go. The dog had been running loose and neighbors had to beat the dog repeatedly to get the dog to release the boy. The owner of the dog was not charged with any crime, and was only issued two citations: animal rabies and failure to license the animal.
In most cases, the only way to recover damages in a dog bite case is to file a lawsuit against the dog owner for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and loss of consortium. If a dog has bitten you or someone you love, you have a right to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Owners that train their dogs to be aggressive, or those that allow their dogs to run loose, should face harsh penalties when their dogs cause injuries. A simple slap on the wrist citation almost condones their negligence.
To find out whether you have a dog bite injury claim, contact Illinois personal injury lawyer Christopher Dixon. Each case is unique and deserves a thorough evaluation. For immediate assistance, call 314-409-7060 or 855-402-7274 (toll free) for a FREE case consultation. There is NO FEE unless we win.