Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers
While dogs are considered man’s best friend, the fact is that not all dogs are friendly. Dog bites are serious – they can range from minor bites to horrific attacks – and can affect anyone at any age.
We often think of children as being the victims of dog bites, but adults can also be bitten. No matter the size or breed of the dog, an aggressive dog that bites can do damage. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Chicago or throughout Illinois, it’s important to talk to an attorney after you’ve sought out medical care.
More than the Bite
Getting bitten by a dog is often about more than the bite. Children who are bitten by dogs have to deal with long-term scarring and healing, but often more troubling is the emotional damage they face. Many children in this situation are terrified of dogs, and require extensive psychological therapy to help them deal with the trauma they’ve endured.
That trauma can go on for years – adults who were bitten as children still have fear of dogs, making every house party at a friend’s house, every get-together at a park a potential source of fear.
You Have Dog Bite Questions — We Have Answers
Q: If I have been injured from a dog bite, when should I consider getting an attorney?
A: If you have injuries resulting from a dog bite you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Most people have never been involved in a dog bite case and have never worked with an insurance company on covering their dog bite injuries. Insurance companies train their adjusters on negotiation. Many times this may leave you with a low settlement offer that does not cover your damages. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney that will be able to analyze the information you have gathered, provide guidance and advise you whether you have a viable personal injury claim.
Q: What must I prove to win my dog bite injury case in Illinois?
A: Illinois has enacted laws to protect people who have been injured due to an animal attack. Under the common law, a person that was injured by a domestic animal (tame, docile) could recover if they proved that the owner knew, or should have known, that the animal had a predisposition to cause harm. This was known as the “one bite rule.” Although the rules set forth by the common law still exist, the Illinois Animal Control Act, which is now used for dog bite cases, eliminates the need to prove the dog owner had prior knowledge of the animal’s vicious nature, or negligence in certain circumstances, and imposes strict liability. 510 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1 (The Animal Control Act). The Animal Control Act requires the plaintiff (injured person) prove four elements to show liability (fault), which is why an attorney is often needed. The four elements are: (1) the injury was caused by an act or attack of the animal; (2) the person that the claim is being brought against owns the animal; (3) the animal was not provoked; and (4) the plaintiff was acting peaceably in a place that they were legally allowed to be. 510 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/16.
Q: Can I file my case against a landlord of the property in which I received my dog bite?
A: In certain circumstances a landlord may be found liable (at fault) for the personal injuries of another person’s animal. Under the Animal Control Act, a plaintiff is required (injured person) to prove four elements to show liability (fault): (1) the injury was caused by an act or attack of the animal; (2) the person that the claim is being brought against owns the animal; (3) the animal was not provoked; and (4) the plaintiff was acting peaceably in a place that they were legally allowed to be. 510 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/16. When defining ownership (element 2), the Animal Control Act states “any person having a right of property in a dog, or who keeps or harbors a dog, or has it in his care, or who acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on the owner’s premises,” may be considered an owner. 510 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2.16. However, this requires care and custody of the dog. Therefore, in certain situations, a landlord may be found liable for the personal injuries sustained by another person’s dog.
Q: If I sustained injuries from a dog attack, but the dog did not bite me, may I still receive compensation?
A: Yes. Under Illinois law, if a person sustains injuries while a dog is attacking or attempting to attack (even without physical biting) the owner of that dog is still liable. 510 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/16. Examples of this include a person falling when fleeing from an attacking dog, a heart attack or stroke caused by a dog attack, or a motorist or bicyclist injured by a lunging dog.
Q: In Illinois, who pays the damages for my dog bite injuries?
A: Although the owner is liable for any injuries caused by the dog, often their insurance company will ultimately pay for the damages. Most homeowner’s insurance covers dog bites. Additionally, rental, business and landlord insurance may cover dog bite injuries. In a personal injury claim, if you were injured by a dog bite you would pursue the owner of the animal, who would turn the matter over to their insurance agency. The insurance agency then assigns a claims adjuster who will contact the victim, and through a series of negotiations, work toward a settlement. However, claims adjusters are experienced negotiators with practice in these matters and may ask questions in a manner that may damage your claim. An attorney from the Lamber Goodnow team will be able to provide guidance before you speak with the dog owner’s insurance agency and give legal advice if you have questions about the settlement value of an insurance claim.
Q: If I am involved in a dog bite accident in Illinois, how long do I have to file a lawsuit for personal injuries?
A: In Illinois, the statute of limitations on a personal injury case is two years from the date of the accident (or within two years after the cause of action accrued) or the person will be barred from bringing a lawsuit. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202. However, if the plaintiff is under 18, or has a disability, they must bring the civil claim within two years after the person turns 18, or the disability is removed. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-211(a). This means that a minor has until their twentieth birthday to file a claim for personal injuries caused by a dog bite.
Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Illinois and The Midwest
Dog bite laws vary from city to city and state to state. That’s why it’s important to know your rights, and also to get the best representation possible. You’ll want compensation to treat your injuries – short- and long-term.
The lawyers on the Lamber Goodnow team, and those at our partner firms have experience handling dog bite cases. We understand the laws about collaring, leashing, registration and more – and the obligation that dog owners have to protect the public.
When you hire us, we’ll investigate the incident, evaluate your medical condition and also investigate the history of the dog. Was this a one-time incident, or have other people been bitten? Does the owner have a history? These are all important aspects of understanding not only liability but also negligence.
We’ll look at the area where the bite occurred, whether it was on a public street, in a home or in a backyard. We’ll also find out if there were any posted signs about aggressive animals.
A civil lawsuit allows you to collect compensation for any injuries you suffered. This includes paying for medical bills, covering lost wages, therapy (physical or psychological), rehabilitation and any post-healing procedures such as reconstructive surgery.
Too often, dog bites occur in a familiar environment – at a friend’s house, or around a dog you know. That can make the situation complicated and emotional – it’s common for the injured party to debate whether to sue the dog’s owner for the costs of their medical expenses.
Our team understands this quandary, which is why we work with you to figure out the best situation possible. We’ll outline all your options. Typically, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance would cover your claim – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the resolution will be immediate. You’ll need a skilled lawyer to get the claim settled quickly, efficiently and in your favor.
* When we take a case, we don’t charge you any upfront fees or costs.
* Only when we recover money for you in a settlement or a verdict will we get paid.
Contact Us Now
Once you’ve gotten medical treatment for your dog bite, call us immediately. We’ll want to take pictures, review the scene/reports, and get an assessment of your injuries. You can call 312-757-7777 now to schedule a no-fee, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.
 Domm v. Hollenbeck, 259 Ill. 382, 102 N.E. 782 (1913).
 Harris v. Walker, 119 Ill. 2d 542, 519 N.E.2d 917 (1988).