Can You Sue for a Minor Dog Bite?

Even when leashed, animals can pose risk to those around them. Pets that aren’t used to being around others, or get anxious around other animals, are a threat because their behavior is unpredictable. Even well-trained dogs can attack others when overwhelmed by their environment. In cases of dog-related accidents, not all injuries sustained are severe. Sometimes, only minor bites result from a dog attack. However, this does not mean the incident wasn’t scary or otherwise damaging.

Black dog on leash barking at person

Minor Dog-Related Injuries

Not all injuries caused by dog attacks require serious medical intervention. Some damages that occur are less severe in nature, though they do require some level of treatment. Minor dog attack injuries include:

  • Puncture and/or tearing wounds
  • Scarring
  • Infection, if the dog was not properly vaccinated
  • Emotional/psychological injuries

Though minor dog bite injuries seem unimportant in theory, they can still cause permanent scarring and emotional distress.

Illinois Dog Bite Statute

Illinois established a statute that dictates when a dog’s owner is liable if their pet attacks someone. Liability applies to the party responsible for the incident, which is the dog’s owner, under the following context:

  • The owner’s dog either attacked or attempted to attack an individual.
  • The individual that the dog attacked was within their rights to be in that specific location at the time of the incident.
  • The individual did not provoke or attempt to harm the dog in any way.

This statute clearly states that a dog owner is liable for damages associated with attempted attacks, which don’t always cause severe injury.

What Are the Exceptions to Dog Bite Law?

Not all contexts warrant such strict liability. In locations where the injured individual assumes risk, dog bite law doesn’t apply. For example, unlawfully entering a private residence exempts the dog’s owner from possessing strict liability if their dog attacks you. This also applies in situations where the owner warns against you entering the property and/or verbally (or through signage) expresses to you that you assume risk and responsibility if you enter the premises.

Illinois Comparative Fault Law

Illinois operates under comparative fault law, which means that the court investigates each party’s role in an accident. This applies to dog bite cases, which fall under personal injury law. During investigation, whether it involves the court or settlement negotiation, both parties are liable for their own contributions to the incident. For instance, the injured party might have intimidated or provoked the dog before it attacked. The plaintiff would need to consider their own actions in the incident because the court, if they choose to bring their case to trial, takes this into consideration in their verdict.

Negotiating a Settlement

Remaining transparent while negotiating settlement is important when pursuing a claim for a dog bite. Factors like the severity of the bite don’t prevent you from filing, but they do play a role in the settlement you ask for. Consulting with a dog bite attorney can give you insight into what your settlement should look like when taking all evidence into consideration. Asking for an unreasonable settlement to address a minor dog bite will not result in settlement agreement. Ultimately, the unending disagreement will push you to bring the case to court.

Statute of Limitations

Each state establishes a statute of limitations for their legal processes. In Illinois, claimants pursuing personal injury claims have two years to file their lawsuit. After this time, the defendant in the case can file a motion in the court to dismiss the claim. This motion is typically honored because the claimant gives up their upper hand, so-to-speak, by delaying their claim past the statute of limitations.

Plaintiffs can pursue personal injury claims when attacked by individual’s dog. Even if they possess some portion of blame in the incident, a claimant can file for the damages they sustained during the attack. Though you might not need to full services of a Chicago personal injury attorney in minor dog bite cases, utilizing a free consultation could give you an idea of how your case might proceed.