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Can You Get in Trouble If Your Dog Bites Someone?

Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.


If your dog bites someone, you can be legally and financially liable for any medical bills and damages the victim sustains. Illinois is a strict liability state, meaning that no matter what injury your dog inflicts on another person, you would be liable for their damages as long as it can be shown that the incident met the parameters of the Illinois Dog Bite Statute 510 ILCS 5/16, which states:

  • The dog attempted to attack, attacked, or injured the victim.
  • The victim had a legal right to be in the place where the dog bite incident occurred.
  • The dog was not provoked by the victim in any way.

This statute also covers non-bite injuries, such as being knocked down by a dog that is charging, for example.

Protecting Yourself as a Dog Owner

It is the responsibility of every dog owner to ensure that their dog does not injure others. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are certain recommendations all dog owners should follow to protect themselves legally and to ensure that their dog does not cause harm to others. These recommendations include:

  • Socialize your dog as young as possible with people and other animals.
  • Supervise your dog with all children and teach children how to safely interact with all dogs.
  • Never leave young children alone with any dog.
  • Spay or neuter your dog; research shows that dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are not neutered.
  • Immediately seek the help of a veterinarian or behaviorist if your dog begins to show any aggressive behaviors.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or has puppies.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog, such as wrestling or tug-of-war.
  • Keep your dog on a leash any time you are away from your property.
  • Consider a fence for your property, at least six feet high, and keep the fence properly maintained to ensure it is secure.
  • Consider placing up warning signs on the property to warn others that a dog is present.

If you own a dog, you will also want to contact your insurance company to determine if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers dog bites and your specific breed. Lawsuits are expensive and if your dog bites another person, you want that assurance that you will be covered up to the limits of your coverage.

Dogs in Illinois that have bitten someone may be deemed “dangerous” or “vicious” by the courts. With these designations come requirements that the dog’s owner must follow, including paying fines, having the dog microchipped, spayed, or neutered, registering the dog with the police, muzzling the dog any time it is in public, and in some especially violent cases, euthanization. To prevent this headache and heartbreak for everyone involved, prevention is key.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite attack, we at Mike Agruss Law are here for you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses, and this includes working on your behalf to ensure a favorable settlement.

We at Mike Agruss Law are proud to serve our fellow citizens in personal injury cases, including when you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite attack, and we are fully committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that the other party is held legally accountable when negligence occurs. We will fight until the very end to ensure that you are fully compensated for all injuries and losses resulting from the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and you won’t owe us a dime for our services.

We see you as a person, not just a client – and that makes us better at what we do. We listen. We learn your story. And, as we help you get the money you deserve, we go above and beyond in a way most law firms never could and never would. Because we’re not just lawyers. And you’re not just a client. We’re friends, neighbors, family. We’re all people and here at Mike Agruss Law, we put People, First.

Helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people, not the powerful, we will take care of the insurance adjusters, your medical bills, your property damage, your lost wages, and monitor your treatment so you can focus on healing and getting your life back to normal. Our unique formula has earned us over 900 outstanding client reviews on our website, an A+ BBB rating, and over 120 five-star reviews on Google. Call 888-572-0176, e-mail us at [email protected] or schedule a meeting with us here. We’re here 24/7. 

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