Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer
Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs are a source of joy and companionship for many households. In the US, more than 38% of households own at least one dog. That’s over 48 million homes, accounting for about 77 million beloved canine pets.
But while most dogs are loyal, lovable, and friendly, some can be aggressive and violent and cause serious injury to people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly, and about 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bite injuries. The most frequent victims are children, making up over 50% of dog bite injuries annually.
Aside from being painful and traumatic, a dog’s bite can result in lost wages, missed school days, and the risk of scarring or disfigurement. These damages culminate into significant economic and non-economic damages, for which you deserve compensation.
Allow the Chicago dog bite attorneys at Injury Lawyers Team sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices to help you seek the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Any dog can bite, regardless of age, sex, breed, or temperament. However, a dog biting someone is usually a reaction to something, such as:
- Fear: A dog can become aggressive when it fears something or someone. When a dog bites out of fear, it usually tries to create distance from whatever scares them.
- Surprise: A dog can bite if startled, especially if it has been sleeping. A dog taken by surprise may feel disoriented and bite as a first reaction.
- Resource Guarding: Dogs are territorial creatures, especially over their space, toys, and food. When someone or something tries to take away a valuable thing, biting can be part of a dog’s resource-guarding behavior.
- Protection: Most dogs feel protective of their owners, especially children they may see as vulnerable. A dog may bite a person they think is threatening its owner, even if that person means no harm.
- Frustration: A dog can bite out of frustration, such as when it is trying to reach something, but someone is holding them back.
- Pain: Illness and pain can be overwhelming for dogs, and they can bite as a result. An injured or ill dog can bite even its owner if they are in pain.
Most Frequent Biters According to Breed
While any dog can bite, certain dog breeds are more frequent biters. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the breeds that bite the most are:
- Pit bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German shepherds
These breeds are also known to cause the most serious injuries.
In contrast, dog attacks occur least frequently in other breeds, including:
- Great Danes
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dogs can cause mild to severe injuries, depending on the dog’s size, the attack’s severity, and the victim’s size and age. Common dog-bite-related injuries include:
- Lacerations and Puncture Wounds: These injuries are the most common effects of dog bites. A large dog’s teeth can cut through skin and muscle, cause deep lacerations, and sometimes even tear away chunks of flesh. Smaller dogs are less likely to cause serious injury but can still cause significant cuts or wounds.
- Eye Injuries: A dog’s bite on the face can lead to serious injury to the eye, such as corneal abrasion (scratched eye), blunt trauma, avulsions (partial or total eye tearing), and eye loss.
- Infections: A dog’s mouth contains millions of bacteria that can cause infection. A dog bite wound can lead to potentially fatal infections like staph and strep infections without proper medical attention.
- Nerve Damage: A dog’s teeth can bite deep into the tissue and damage nerves alongside tissue and muscles, potentially leading to intense pain, weakness, and numbness. Serious nerve injury can cause total or partial paralysis in the affected area.
- Broken Bones: Dog breeds with strong bite forces (German shepherds, American bulldogs, Rottweilers) can cause fractures due to the sheer power of their jaws.
- Rabies: An unvaccinated or rabid dog can transmit rabies to a human through a bite. Early symptoms of rabies in humans include weakness, fever, and general discomfort. Without proper treatment, the disease will progress and cause cerebral dysfunction, confusion, agitation, anxiety, and eventual death.
- Amputation: Some dog bite victims lose limbs due to severe bites or infection.
What to Do If a Dog Bites You
Here’s what you need to do in case of a dog attack where the owner is not there to help:
- Evacuate the Scene: Do not run, as this will only encourage the attacking dog to chase after you. Instead, back away slowly while facing the dog and yelling in a loud, firm voice. Try to distract it by throwing a rock or stick near it, then find a way to put yourself out of its reach. Call 911 if necessary.
- Evaluate Your Injuries: Seek medical attention at the ER if you suffer serious injuries or if a rabid dog bites you. Otherwise, clean your wounds at home.
- Apply First Aid: Wash the wound in warm water and mild soap, slow the bleeding with a clean cloth, and apply antibiotic cream. Wrap the wound in sterile gauze or bandage.
- See a Doctor.: The most significant concern after a dog bite injury is avoiding infection. See a doctor as soon as possible to ensure your dog bite injury has a low chance of getting infected. Seek medical attention immediately if you are unsure whether the dog has an owner and has been vaccinated for rabies.
- Call the Authorities: Alert the police or animal control of the potentially dangerous dog in your neighborhood. Get the dog owner’s contact information and inform them of the animal attack.
- Document Your Injuries: Write down the exact location, time, and date of the incident. Take pictures of your injuries and any property the dog may have damaged. As you recover, record your pain, ongoing emotional trauma, and other effects of the attack in a journal. This information will help you build your personal injury case later.
- Call a Lawyer: Most dog bites lead to personal injury cases. It may be in your best interest to take preemptive measures and call a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Who Can Be Held Liable For a Dog Bite in Chicago?
According to the Illinois Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/16), “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or another animal is liable in damages to such person for the full amount of the injury sustained.”
Illinois follows the “strict liability” rule regarding dog bites, meaning a dog owner is liable regardless of their degree of fault in the incident or their awareness of their dog’s tendency to bite.
In other states, dog owners are liable if they should have known that their dogs might act violently or dangerously. This rule revolves around the idea that an animal gets one free bite, and afterward, the owner is aware of and responsible for the animal’s violent tendencies.
Factors Affecting the Liability of Dog Owners
Several factors affect the liability of a dog owner whose animal attacks another person, including:
- Trespassing: A dog’s owner may have no liability if their dog bites someone trespassing on their private property. However, exceptions apply to some cases, such as when the injured person is a child.
- Provocation: Illinois dog bite laws clearly state that for a dog owner to be liable for a dog bite injury, the attack must be unprovoked. If the victim provokes the animal in any way, they might be unable to recover compensation from the owner. Acts of provocation may include teasing, yelling, touching, or throwing objects at a dog.
Dog Attacks in Rental Properties
Illinois dog bite laws state that a landlord has no legal duty to prevent injury caused within leased premises they do not control. Hence, if a dog bite occurs in a rented or leased space, the landlord has no liability for resulting damages.
However, if a dog bite injury occurs in a common area, the victim may be able to hold the landlord liable for their damages.
Filing a Dog Bite Injury Claim
To show that you are entitled to financial compensation for a dog bite injury, you must prove the following:
- The dog caused an injury.
- The dog had an “owner” within the terms of the law.
- You did not provoke the dog.
- You were acting peaceably.
- You had the right to be in the place where the animal attack occurred (i.e., you were not trespassing)
Fortunately, you do not have to prove that the owner was acting negligently to hold them liable in a dog bite case. All you need to do is prove that the attack occurred. You can do this by collecting the following forms of evidence:
- Photos of injuries
- Hospital records
- Surveillance footage (e.g., videos from doorbell cameras)
- Witness accounts
- Your testimony
- Canine expert testimony
- Testimony from other dog bite victims of the same animal
Additionally, your Chicago dog bite attorney will ask for documentation to show the extent of your damages, such as:
- Medical bills, prescriptions
- Psychological evaluations
- Records of missed school or work days
- Pain diary
- Photos of scarring or disfigurement
By filing a dog bite injury claim, you could recover financial compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your medical expenses, including hospitalization, medication, reconstructive surgery, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages (e.g., mobility aids, physical therapy) if you become disabled from the incident.
- Loss of Income: Compensation for the wages and income you’ve lost while recovering from the dog attack.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, mental trauma, and other physical and non-physical injuries caused by the dog bite.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation for medical expenses, trauma, loss of quality of life, and other damages associated with scarring or disfigurement from a dog bite.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages, including funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, loss of consortium, etc.
Settlement values for dog bite claims vary from case to case. Your Chicago dog bite lawyer will calculate the potential value of your compensation during your free consultation to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Reaching a Settlement
Dog owners can use their homeowners’ insurance coverage to pay for civil damages if their dogs injure someone. Almost every homeowner has this coverage in their insurance policy, which usually covers dog bites even if they don’t occur on the dog owner’s property. Renters sometimes have this coverage on their renter’s insurance, but it is less common.
After filing a personal injury claim, you may receive a settlement offer from the dog owner’s insurance company. You can accept the payment immediately, but doing so will bar you from suing for additional damages. Furthermore, insurers usually make lowball offers to avoid paying more than necessary, so negotiating is best.
Our dog bite lawyers can negotiate a fair offer on your behalf. To avoid difficulties with the insurance company, avoid talking to insurance adjusters and never admit fault for the incident.
Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Your dog bite attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit if:
- The insurance company denies your claim without a valid reason.
- The insurance company refuses to make a fair offer.
- Negotiations have stalled
- The dog’s owner refuses to take responsibility for the attack.
- The value of damages exceeds the maximum payable amount of the dog owner’s insurance policy.
We can help you file a case in civil court if any of these scenarios happen. When you file a lawsuit, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both sides to determine a verdict. This process is called litigation and may take several months to resolve, so we aim to handle all dog bite cases out of court.
Our lawyers can help you recover damages through arbitration or mediation to avoid litigation. These alternative dispute resolution methods occur outside the courtroom and are often less expensive, less formal, and less time-consuming than a trial.
Our lawyers will discuss all viable options for your dog bite case during your free consultation.
Statute of Limitations
According to Illinois law, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the underlying incident. If a dog bite victim dies from their injuries, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of death.
Our attorneys recommend filing dog bite lawsuits as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline and losing crucial evidence. If you miss the two-year window, the court will likely refuse to hear your case.
The Role of Dog Bite Attorneys
Dog bite victims often need proper legal counsel to obtain monetary compensation for their injuries. Without a lawyer, you may be unable to get a fair settlement from the dog owner’s insurer or, worse–receive a denial for your dog bite case.
Our Chicago dog bite lawyers can help you by:
- Investigating how and why the dog bit you
- Proving the liability of the dog owner
- Demonstrating the extent of your injuries and other losses
- Filing your dog bite claim as soon as possible
- Negotiating a fair settlement with the defendant’s insurer
- Filing a dog attack lawsuit in civil court, if necessary
How to Avoid Dog Attacks
Some dog bite incidents happen out of nowhere, but most of the time, dogs bite due to humans’ behavior. Here are some essential tips to avoid a dog attack:
- Be wary of all dogs, especially “dangerous” dog breeds; while we discourage breed discrimination, some dogs have poor temperaments.
- Never approach a strange dog, even if it seems friendly; contact animal control if a dog needs help.
- Leave a dog alone when it is displaying warning behaviors (e.g., snarling, growling, showing teeth)
- Never wake or startle a sleeping dog.
- Never take away a dog’s resources (e.g., food, water, toys)
- Do not disrupt a dog when it is eating, drinking, or greeting other dogs.
- Do not try to break up a dog fight with your bare hands; use an extended object or spray water to separate them.
- Avoid entering a dog’s “territory.”
- Never leave children unsupervised with dogs.
- Teach children to handle dogs gently and avoid taking their resources
- Avoid chained dogs
If you face a dog that is on the verge of attacking, here’s what you can do:
- Stand still and do not run.
- Do not make eye contact with the dog.
- Use a firm voice and try using familiar commands (e.g., sit, stay)
- Distract it with food, toys, shoes, or other objects
- Try to get on top of something, such as a car
Many dog-bite victims sustain severe and sometimes life-altering injuries from dog attacks. Fortunately, Illinois makes it possible to recover compensation from owners even if they are unaware of their pets’ vicious tendencies.
Talk to an Experienced Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Did you or a loved one suffer a dog bite? Did the dog attack occur without provocation and in a place you were allowed to be? You have the right to hold the dog’s owner accountable for your damages if you meet these criteria.
Dog attacks can lead to life-threatening injuries and significant financial losses. Our Chicago dog bite lawyers tirelessly help victims seek justice from owners through insurance settlements and personal injury lawsuits. With our attorneys’ experience and expertise, you could recover maximum compensation for your injuries, trauma, lost income, and other losses.
Contact our dog bite attorneys today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers handle all animal attack and dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our services unless we make a recovery for you.