Dog Bites and Attacks
Dog bites are often gruesome injuries, and victims may suffer from permanent scars, serious infections, torn skin or muscle, and even death. Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of serious dog bite injuries across the United States, as their height makes their head and neck easy targets for vicious animals. Children are also more likely to approach strange dogs. According to DogsBite, 15 children and 21 adults died from dog attacks in 2018. This is sadly a serious issue that can put the lives of all ages at risk of death or serious injury.
Children between 5 and 9 are the most likely targets of a vicious dog, and young victims are also unable to fend off an attack. There are approximately 75 million dogs in the United States. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates around 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in this country, although this estimate is probably low. Close to 900,000 victims seek emergency care at a hospital every year, while 30,000 must undergo reconstructive surgery. Up to 20 people die from dog bites every year. If you or someone you love has been hurt by a dog bite or dog attack, you need experienced legal representation. In many cases, you will be going up against the insurance company that provider’s homeowner’s or renter’s coverage to the dog’s owner, not the owner himself or herself.
At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we are prepared to represent you and protect your rights. We prepare each case as if it were going to trial, which oftentimes resolves cases quicker and provides the best possible results for clients. This strategy is especially important in personal injury cases.
Common Injuries from Dog Bites and Attacks
A dog can have a certain amount of force that makes it very difficult for a human to fight off. A 2005 National Geographic study measured the force of several animals’ bite pressure. A dog’s bite showed 320 pounds of pressure, which is about three times that of a human and about half that of a great white shark. So, dogs can do some serious damage when they attack a human. Some common injuries include:
- Lacerations and heavy bleeding
- Broken bones
- Face injuries
- Nerve damage
- Rabies or other infections
- Internal injuries
Dogs can be moved to attack a human if they feel they are playing with you, they were poorly trained or socialized, they feel under attack or threatened, or they are frightened. In any case, they still pose a great deal of danger to anyone that is in their path when they feel any of these. So it is oftentimes the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the dog is protected and away from others when these are possibilities that could lead to a dangerous attack.
Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites
While dog attack lawsuits are usually brought against the owner’s insurance company, many policies exclude certain breeds identified as being especially dangerous. The following breeds are routinely excluded from insurance policies:
- Pit Bulls and mixes
- Presa Canarios
- German Shepherds
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- Wolf hybrids
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
Some dog owners choose to carry personal umbrella liability insurance, which offers coverage extending past homeowner’s insurance. In such cases, the policy may offer coverage for dog bite injuries. Meanwhile, breeders, animal trainers, and veterinarians usually carry professional insurance. If you were injured by a dog at a business or store, the landlord’s liability insurance should cover the injuries.
Illinois Dog Bite Law
Every state has enacted laws regarding dog bites and vicious dog attacks. In Illinois, owners, harborers, and keepers of dogs are liable for injuries to people, whether or not the injury was caused by a bite, without negligence on the part of the owner. Illinois has a strict liability statute, as owners can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog whether or not they knew or had reason to know their dog was dangerous.
In Illinois, we do not follow a “one-bite rule” law, but rather a strict liability dog bites law. The Illinois statute governing dog bites and attacks in 510 ILCS 5/16, and states that you must prove lack of trespassing on the owner’s property, that you were lawfully able to be there, and lack of provocation, meaning you did not act in a way to cause the dog to attack you. You do not need to prove previous aggressive behavior.
Liability may lie with the owner of the dog or the individual in charge of the dog at the time. If someone was dog sitting and let the dog out which resulted in the attack on a passerby outside, the dog sitter could be deemed liable for the damages.
Damages That You Can Recover
Illinois follows the rule of comparative negligence, which deems each party a certain “percentage” liable for the accident. For instance, you may be found to be 10% at fault for the attack while the owner is found 90% at fault. In this case, you would be awarded a 90% award for the damages of the accident while the owner is given a 10% award.
After a dog attack, you should seek immediate medical attention and try to clean any open wounds. Take photos of your injuries and surroundings and keep any evidence from the attack, such as your unwashed clothes. Once you get in contact with a lawyer who can assist you in pursuing a case, give them all evidence that you gathered as well as medical bills and damages. Some damages that you can be compensated for are the following:
- Medical expenses proven by your medical bills
- Lost wages proven by pay stubs if your injuries kept you from working
- Property damage if any of your belongings were destroyed in the attack (e.g. a purse)
- Pain and suffering following the incident
- Emotional distress from the trauma of the event
- A wrongful death claim if you are filing on behalf of a loved one who died as a result of this attack
If you have been injured by a dog bite or attack, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, for a free consultation. We are a Chicago injury law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered an injury or loss due to an accident Agruss Law Firm, LLC, will handle your personal injury case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Agruss Law Firm, LLC, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire us–just the opportunity to seek justice.
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