Need a Dog Bite Attorney in Illinois? Here’s What You Should Know
Being the victim of a dog bite injury in a large city like Gurnee is far more likely than in other areas of the country. In fact, Illinois consistently ranks among the top few states each year for dog bite injuries. For this reason, the Illinois legislature has enacted some of the strongest dog bite legislation in the country.
As a Gurnee dog bite lawyer, I have successfully represented many clients in dog bite lawsuits. In this article, I provide a brief overview of Illinois dog bite law, as well as some important steps you should take following an attack.
Illinois Dog Bite Law
In Illinois, the Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/1, et seq.) provides that if a dog or other animal attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person without provocation, then the owner is liable for the full amount of the victim’s injuries. This standard holds the animal’s owner to a higher level of liability than many states. These other states apply what is known as the “one free bite rule”. Under this rule, an owner is typically not liable in a dog bite lawsuit if the animal has no history of violent propensities.
As we mentioned above, the large number of dog attacks in Illinois led to a heightened level of liability for owners. The legislation was designed to “encourage tight control of animals in order to protect the public from harm.” Hayes v. Adams, 2013 IL App (2d) 120681.
Illinois dog bite law is based on a theory of strict liability. If an animal injures a person, then the owner is generally liable provided that several defenses do not apply. First, if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property then the owner may not be held liable. Second, if the victim provokes the dog than the owner may not be liable for the victim’s injuries.
Note that the owner can be liable for injuries that are not bite-related. For example, suppose your neighbor is walking his dog and stops in your driveway to talk with you while you are washing your car. During the conversation the dog unexpectedly jumps on you. You fall to the ground and break your arm. Under Illinois dog bite law, the owner will be liable for your injuries.
If you are injured by an animal, you have 2 years from the date of the injury to file a complaint against the owner. If you fail to file within this time, your dog bite claim will likely be barred forever.
What If My Pet Is Attacked?
Attacks on other animals became so prevalent in Illinois that the legislature was forced to adopt a new law that took effect in January of 2019. The law, known as the “Justice for Buddy Act”, provides that if a dog has previously bitten a person or another animal without justification and is found off-leash, then the owner will be deemed to have acted recklessly. Not only will that dog be taken away, but the owner can lose all his or her dogs, as well as be barred from owning another dog for up to 3 years.
The Act was enacted as a result of a 2017 attack where a Yorkie named Buddy was killed by a neighbor’s dog. The owner’s dogs were found loose less than a week following the attack. The owner ignored instructions to muzzle his dogs while they were being walked.
In many cases, both the victim owner and the pet are attacked. The owner of the attacking animal can be held liable for both the injuries to the victim and his or her pet.
Damages The Victim Can Recover
A dog bite lawsuit will commonly seek reimbursement from the owner for the following expenses:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Lost income. If the injuries require you to miss time from work and/or will cause you to miss time in the future, you can be reimbursed.
- Damage to property.
- Loss of consortium.
Note that recovery in dog bite cases varies depending on the facts of the case and the severity of the victim’s injuries. Consult with an experienced Gurnee personal injury lawyer to learn more about the types and amount of damages that you can collect for your injury claim.
Steps To Take Following A Dog Bite Injury In Illinois
If you have suffered an injury from a dog attack, it is important to take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention. Any wounds must be cleaned and anesthetized. Dog bites frequently lead to infection. This is due to bacteria in the dog’s mouth or bacteria that is present on the skin near the area of the wound. Signs of infection include:
- Red streaks near the bite
- Pus or fluid leaking from the wound
- Loss of feeling around the area of the wound
Seek immediate treatment and medical care for signs of infection and/or for deep wounds that may have resulted in damage to muscles, tendons, or bones.
- Consult with the owner to determine whether the dog has been immunized. If it has not, or if you cannot determine whether the dog has been vaccinated, then seek immediate medical treatment for rabies and tetanus.
- Discuss your options and rights with an experienced dog bite lawyer.
Experienced Illinois Dog Bite Lawyer
As a Gurnee dog bite injury lawyer with many years of experience representing dog bite victims, I have seen first-hand the damage and trauma that a dog bite attack can cause. If you, your pet, or someone you know has been injured as a result of a dog attack, it is important to contact a qualified personal injury lawyer to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries. Please contact our law firm today for a free consultation and advise on your legal rights. We serve people in Gurnee, Libertyville, and all around Lake County, IL.