Illinois Dog Bite Laws
Dog Bites - August 21, 2020
Dog bite incidents can result in severe injuries for victims. Most people never think about the possibility of sustaining a dog bite injury until an incident actually occurs. Unfortunately, dog bites are more common than most people realize. At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we are here to help when you need a dog bite attorney in Chicago by your side. We will conduct a complete investigation into your case so we can secure the compensation you need to get through this.
Illinois Dog Bite Strict Liability Statute
Dog bite cases are generally handled in one of two ways: under negligence laws or strict liability laws. Illinois is a “strict liability” dog bite state. This means that a dog owner can be held liable for any injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether or not the dog has acted aggressively in the past or has ever bitten anybody before.
Illinois goes a step further than most other strict liability dog bite states and holds a dog owner responsible for other injuries caused by the dog aside from bite injuries. For example, if a dog jumps on somebody and knocks them down, causing a broken arm, the dog owner could be held liable for these injuries as well.
When we turn to the language of the specific law regarding these incidents (510 ILCS 5/15 of the Animal Control Act), we can see that the statute says the dog owner will be held liable for any civil damages if a dog attacks or injured someone “who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be.”
If a person is trespassing on private property at the time they are bitten by a dog, they will not likely be able to recover any compensation for their injuries. Illinois law requires that a person be lawfully on the property that they occupied when the attack took place.
Proving Negligence In Dog Bite Claims
In order for a victim to recover compensation after a dog bite incident, the injured person must be able to show the following:
- That a dog attacked and injured them
- That they had a lawful right to be where they were when the attack occurred
- That the dog was not provoked in any way
Because Illinois is a strict liability dog bite state, it is not usually going to be necessary to prove that the dog owner’s negligence was the cause of the incident (i.e. the dog was off their leash or had a history of aggression).
Is Illinois A One Bite State?
Many states are considered “one bite” states when it comes to dog bite incidents. This means that a dog owner will be held liable only if their dog has previously bitten somebody or proven to be aggressive prior to the current dog bite situation. However, because Illinois is a strict liability dog bite state, the “one bite” rule will not apply.
Who Reports A Dog Bite in Illinois?
There are various reporting requirements you may need to be aware of after a dog bite incident occurs, and these typically vary from municipality to municipality. If you are bitten by a dog, you may need to either report the dog bite to local law enforcement or to local animal control officials as soon as possible.
Not only will a report help your insurance claim, but it may also help prevent a potentially dangerous dog from biting somebody in the future.
Most Common Dog Bite Injuries
There are various types of injuries that can occur in a dog bite incident. Dogs have very powerful jaws, and the CDC has reported that as many as 800,000 to 900,000 people seek emergency medical care for dog bites every year across the country.
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, our attorneys have helped victims of dog bites who have sustained the following:
- Severe lacerations and puncture wounds
- Severed arteries, veins, tendons, and muscles
- Broken bones in the hands and fingers
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Infections related to the dog bite
In many cases, dog bite injury victims in Illinois must undergo significant reconstructive surgery in order to repair their appearance and functionality to a portion of their body. Even then, victims may have long-term scarring or disfigurement on visible areas of their body, leading to significant emotional and psychological trauma.
What If Your Dog Was Attacked By Another Dog?
If your dog was attacked by another dog, it may be necessary to prove the negligence of the other dog’s owner in order to recover compensation for veterinary bills, medications for your dog, kennel fees for a recovering dog, etc. In general, the homeowner’s insurance carrier of the dog owner will typically pay these expenses if it can be shown that the dog owner was negligent in allowing their pet to attack the other dog. If the homeowner’s insurance carrier does not cover these costs, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner.
Can You Sue For A Dog Bite In Illinois?
It may be necessary for Illinois dog bite victims to file a personal injury lawsuit against a dog owner in order to recover the compensation they need. The personal injury statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the day the injury occurs, so victims need to keep this timeline in mind. Failing to file a claim within this two-year window will likely result in a victim being unable to recover the compensation they deserve.
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we have extensive experience handling these cases and will work diligently to recover the following types of compensation for dog bite victims:
- Compensation for all medical expenses caused by the dog bite injuries
- Coverage of any reconstructive procedures needed
- Lost income if a victim is unable to work
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages