Who Pays When a Dog Bites Another Dog?

Sometimes, animals have a mind of their own. Even well-trained pets can have uncontrolled moments, especially in an overwhelming environment. Circumstances surrounding human-targeted dog bites typically pose a clear verdict if the dog’s owner could not safely control their animal. However, several more factors come into play when two dogs are involved.

What Is a Dog Owner’s Duty?

Each dog owner must remain a responsible caretaker for their pet. Legally, this means fulfilling their duty of care when removing the animal from their premises. According to Illinois law, dog owners must prevent their dog from hurting others. The state exercises strict liability surrounding dangerous dog-related incidents. Strict liability means that the owner is always liable for damages their pets cause, even if the owner is not aware of their animal’s aggressive tendencies.

Dog owners must honor Illinois’ dog bite statute in rulings involving dogs. This statute states that the dog owner is responsible for injuries caused within certain contexts.

  • The dog attacked, or attempted to attack, the victim.
  • The victim was lawfully in the location of the attack.
  • The victim did not provoke the dog or otherwise cause the incidence.

In most cases, this is all that a plaintiff must prove to succeed with their case. However, in situations that involve only dogs, the plaintiff themselves might possess some fraction of the blame as well.

Illinois’ Comparative Fault Law

Illinois exercises comparative fault laws when determining the outcome of personal injury cases. In fact, the state practices pure comparative fault-based laws. This means that the court assigns each party a percentage figure that represents the amount of blame each party possesses in causing the incident. Pure comparative fault differs from modified fault in that either party can pursue legal recourse against the other.

This translates into how the court determines who pays for dog-related injuries when one dog bites another. Context is crucial in this regard because any negligence on the injured dog owner’s part counts. Some scenarios warrant further investigation to determine how much fault for which the injured dog’s party is responsible.

  • The owner allowed their dog to walk off-leash in designated leash areas.
  • The owner’s dog attacked the dog that bit it first.
  • The owner let their dog enter private property.
  • The owner provoked the dog, causing it to lash out.

These extenuating circumstances remove full blame from the party of the dog that did the biting. Though it might seem obvious to place blame on certain parties, sometimes situations are not this cut-and-dry. With Illinois’ pure comparative fault laws, even plaintiffs that possess more than 50% of the fault can press charges if their dog sustained injury too.

Settling Out-of-Court

When addressing dog-related incidents, it is often the best option to pursue mediation with the other party before pressing for a court hearing. Settlement negotiations can be difficult when both parties share some portion of the blame, especially because the court does not set percentages until they hear the case via trial. However, this is where an attorney can help. A dog bite attorney is familiar with the laws that all dog owners must abide by as well as the settlement process, overall. An attorney can investigate your case and prepare you for the negotiation process so that both parties are in agreement about who owes what.

The liable party when one dog bites another is dictated by context, and whether either owner was negligent. In many cases, the owner of the dog who bit another dog claims more responsibility than the other. However, a professional injury lawyer in Chicago can help your case, preventing unfair charges that don’t accurately reflect each owner’s portion of fault. Without an attorney, mediation can quickly turn sour.