Dog bites can result in very serious injuries, both physical and psychological. Many victims suffer from scarring and emotional trauma following a dog bite attack, and sometimes this damage can be long-term or even permanent. If you or a loved one has been injured in an attack by a dog, we at Agruss Law Firm 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. Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.
In 2021 alone, U.S. insurers paid out over $880 million in liability claims for dog bites and dog-related injuries. Medical expenses are a common concern for victims, as dog bites can result in a variety of complications, such as infections and damage to nerves, muscle, or tissue. Some injuries also result in long-term or permanent scars, which can require cosmetic surgery in some cases and can reduce the victim’s confidence or self-esteem. Added to this is the emotional/psychological trauma, as some victims may suffer from anxiety, flashbacks, or even PTSD after the attack.
Unfortunately, there are also rare and devastating cases in which a serious dog bite results in the death of a person, and these victims are typically, but not always, very young or elderly. While city and state laws have been effective in addressing these cases, the underlying problem is that many dog attacks which result in a death are caused not by family dogs, but dogs which are strays or otherwise uncared-for, which can be challenging. In any case, our attorneys will fight for you until the very end to hold the at-fault party accountable.
When a dog owner is legally responsible for his/her dog attacking another person or animal, his/her insurance company will typically pay the compensation. Many insurance policies only cover damages to a certain extent, which means the dog owner may also be pursued for the remaining compensation. In 510 ILCS of Illinois state law, a “dog owner” is defined as:
“‘Owner’ means any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her.”
There are two approaches to a dog bite injury claim, which vary by state: negligence and strict liability. Illinois follows strict liability, which means a plaintiff must prove that: the defendant’s dog attacked or attempted to attack him/her; the dog was not provoked; and the plaintiff was not trespassing when the attack occurred. See 510 ILCS 5/16 for more information.
Under state law 510 ILCS 5/1, also known as the “Illinois Animal Control Act,” Illinois dog owners are obligated to: keep dogs on a leash in public and contained when on the owner’s premises; train their dogs to have a generally peaceful temperament; and always supervise the dog when it is interacting with a stranger, especially a child.
According to Section 16 of the Act:
“Animal attacks or injuries: If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
In addition to state law, dog owners should also be mindful of local ordinances regarding dog ownership, which can vary by city or municipality. For example, here’s what the law says about dog ownership in the city of Chicago in the Municipal Code, Section 7-12-030:
“Each owner shall keep and maintain his animal under restraint…It shall be unlawful for any owner to allow his or her animal to cross outside the property line of its owner to any extent, including reaching through, over or under a fence, or to keep or allow his or her animal to be outdoors on an unfenced portion of the owner’s property, unless the animal is leashed and under the control of its owner or another responsible person…In addition, it shall be an unlawful failure to restrain for an animal to attack, bite, threaten, or jump on any person without that person’s consent, outside the property of the animal’s owner. The provisions of this section shall be a positive duty of the owner and the offenses described herein shall be strict liability offenses.
Any owner who violates any provision of this section shall be subject to a fine of $300.00, if the violation does not result in severe injury or death to any person or damage to another person’s property. If the violation results in severe injury or death to any person, the owner shall be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000.00 and not more than $10,000.00. In addition to a fine, the owner may be required to submit full restitution to the victim or may be incarcerated for a period not to exceed six months, or may be required to perform up to 100 hours of community service, or any combination thereof. If the violation results in damage to another person’s property, the owner shall be subject to a fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $1,000.00. In addition to a fine, the owner may be required to submit full restitution to the victim.”