Every year hundreds of people in Chicago are bitten by dogs, often requiring medical attention and suffering emotional damage and trauma. In fact, Illinois is the state with the second most dog bite claims according to State Farm insurance company. If you suffered a dog bite, call an Illinois dog bite attorney today at 847-305-4105.
In 2017, State Farm paid $132 million as a result of 3,600 dog-related injury claims. Let that sink in for a second. State Farm Insurance paid $132 MILLION to settle dog bite cases. That’s just one insurance company.
Do I need an attorney if a dog bit me?
If you or your child suffered injuries after being attacked by a dog, the physical and emotional toll can be devastating. Pain, disfigurement, infection and disease, and a mountain of medical bills can all follow in the wake of a dog bite. Why should all of that fall on your shoulders?
Illinois law holds dog owners accountable for the harm their pet causes, including dog bite injuries. But obtaining compensation from a dog owner involves a great deal more than simply proving that a dog bit you.
The nuances of Illinois dog bite law can be complex, and the insurance policies that could provide you with compensation contain numerous and complicated exclusions. The dog’s owner, as well as their homeowners insurance company, will raise multiple defenses to try to defeat your claim. The insurer that is likely handling the case’s defense wants to pay you nothing or as little as possible. Unless you want to accept a paltry and insufficient settlement far less than you deserve or want your lawsuit dismissed entirely, you need an experienced dog bite attorney.
Initial consultations with a Chicago dog bite lawyer are almost always free, and you likely won’t have to pay a dime in attorney’s fees until and unless the personal injury lawyer you hire obtains compensation for you through settlement or trial. As such, there is no downside to calling an attorney to discuss your situation.
Steps to take after a dog bite incident
Immediately after you or a loved one suffers a dog bite:
- Report the incident to the police department
- Seek medical attention
- Obtain the name and contact information of the owner of the animal
- Secure contact information from any witnesses
- Photograph the dog as well as the location where the bite occurred
- Photograph any visible injuries or property damage
- Retain any damaged clothing or property
Most importantly, do not accept compensation, accept blame, or speak with the dog owner’s insurance company until you consult an Illinois dog bite attorney.
Potential Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can cause severe injury and also spread infections. Per the Center for Disease Control (which has a great dog bite page in case you want to check it out), dog bites can cause the following diseases:
- Rabies: rabies is a virus that affects the brain and is commonly spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal.
- Capnocytophaga bacteria: this is a bacteria that lives in the mouths of humans, dogs and cats.
- Pasteurella: this is a bacteria that is commonly spread through a dog bite wound.
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): staph infections that is difficult to treat with antibiotics.
- Tetanus: it’s not just a “shot.” “It is a toxin produced by a type of bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This toxin causes rigid paralysis in people and could be a problem in deep bite wounds.” CDC
If you or your loved one has been involved in a canine attack, contact the Chicago Legal Group today at 847-305-4105.
How long do I have to sue for a dog bite?
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for dog bite injury lawsuits is two years. That means you will lose any right to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses if you do not file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of the incident.
If a dog bit and injured your child, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until your child turns 18, meaning that they can file an injury lawsuit up until their 20th birthday. However, you do not need to wait – and shouldn’t wait – until your child turns 18 to file a dog bite lawsuit. Parents and guardians in Illinois can file personal injury lawsuits on behalf of their injured minor children.
How do you prove a dog bite?
The Illinois Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/) governs claims for dog bite injuries, including what a victim needs to prove to obtain compensation. That law provides that:
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.
Pursuant to that provision, a plaintiff needs to prove the following elements to prevail in a dog bite injury lawsuit:
- the defendant actually owned the dog
- you did not provoke the dog;
- you were acting “peaceably”; and
- you were standing in a place where you are legally entitled to be.
If you can prove all four of these things, then you may be eligible to recover money from the dog’s owner for your medical bills, any future medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and disfigurement for any scars you may have after the dog attack.
How much will homeowners insurance pay for a dog bite?
Most homeowners insurance policies cover injuries or damage caused by the homeowner’s dog up to the liability limits (typically $100,000 to $300,000). If the amount of damages exceed that number, the dog owner is responsible for all damages above the policy limit.
Even if a policy does not explicitly mention “dog bites,” coverage is typically rolled into the same liability coverage that applies if someone slips and falls or suffers any kind of injury on the insured’s property. In the case of dog bites, most policies provide coverage even if the attack happened somewhere else, like the sidewalk or dog park. However, a homeowner’s insurance company may try to deny coverage if the owner provoked the attack or they encouraged the dog to bite the victim.
The insurance industry paid out approximately $800 million on almost 18,000 liability claims in 2019 just for dog bites and other dog attack injuries, according to a study from State Farm and the Insurance Information Institute. The average amount paid out by insurance companies on those claims was $44,760.
How much your claim is worth and the amount you could potentially receive in compensation will largely depend on the nature, extent, and circumstances of your injuries. Meeting with an experienced dog bite attorney can give you a better sense of the value of your claim.
What is the liability of a dog owner?
Many states follow a “one-bite rule” for dog bites and other animal attacks. In one-bite states, a dog owner is not on the hook the first time a dog bites someone.
Illinois does not follow the “one bite” rule. Rather, Illinois is a “strict-liability” state. Meaning, if your dog or other animal bites, the owner is on the hook.
The Illinois dog bite statute states that “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.”
We have worked with multiple victims of dog bites throughout Illinois. Learn more about two recent cases where our office was retained to represent dog bite victims in a past blog article. If you want to speak with a Chicago dog bite attorney about how the Chicago Legal Group can help you for injuries suffered in a dog bite incident, call today at 847-305-4105.
Obtain a free consultation today with a dog bite lawyer to see how we can help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Chicago Legal Group – 847-305-4105.