Coronavirus Update: To New & Existing Clients Learn More ›

Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
BBB Accredited Business

Damages in Dog Bite Claims

If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses. However, it can be hard to know how much money you deserve or what steps to take next.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to injured dog bite victims harmed by another's negligence.

Call a Chicago dog bite lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All sensitive or confidential information you share is private through an attorney-client relationship.

Insurance Companies Paying for Dog Bite Injuries

The amount of money that an insurance company will pay for medical bills and other damages is often determined by the severity of the injury. In some cases, dog bite victims are left with permanent disfigurement or emotional trauma from being attacked by a dog.

A claim resolution could include lost wages from not working, which further adds up the treatment and recovery time cost, including future medical and emergency room expenses.

Damages in dog bite claims describe how much compensation you could recover if involved in a serious dog bite incident.

It also explains what factors influence this amount, such as pre-existing conditions, age, and size of the victim, the location where the attack occurred (public vs. private), etc.

Dog Bite Injuries: Holding the Dog Owner Accountable

Many injured victims harmed through dog bites will file personal injury claims when harmed by someone else's dog.

According to State Farm and the insurance information Institute, the number of dog bites every year is about 4.7 million, with 800,000 victims requiring medical attention.

An average cost for dog bite-related injuries is $18,200 in the United States. However, it can be even more in rural areas where emergency care may not be available in the immediate aftermath of an attack or during a period when you face treatment costs like surgery.

This number does not include the cost of emotional trauma due to the long-term effects of being bitten or having close contact with dogs that can cause you alarm, distress, and fear.

Some states might require dog owners who know their canine's aggressive behavior to provide liability insurance for any harm they cause through bites or other incidents. In addition, if the owner is convicted in a criminal court for the attack, they could be subject to legal and financial penalties.

Defining Damage in Dog Bite Claims

The severity of injuries that resulted from an attack determines how much restitution you may be eligible to receive in damages claims. Therefore, when filing a lawsuit or claim against the dog's owner, your injuries must be properly documented.

The following list describes the different types of damages that an injured dog bite victim may be entitled to receive:

  • Past and future medical expenses: Treatment is typically recommended following a dog bite incident, even if the injury does not appear serious. An experienced medical professional can reveal the extent of your injuries and provide treatment for any complications like infections or stress due to the trauma.
  • Emotional trauma: Many adults and children can be affected psychologically after enduring an attack that left you with physical damages like scarring or fear of dogs. An attorney for compensation may request the judge to order a psychiatric evaluation if it is suspected that your mental state will diminish your ability to function now and in the future.
  • Lost wages: If you have not returned to work after being out on medical leave, it is considered lost wages. For example, if you missed two months of work due to an attack, this would be the amount of pay you did not receive during that period.
  • Surgical Procedures and Rehabilitative Therapy: If you have been scarred or disfigured from the dog bite, you may be entitled to damages for corrective surgeries, physical therapy, or treatment options.
  • Prescription medication: After being attacked by a dog, a doctor prescribed you medication is considered restitution for medical bills.
  • Loss of consortium: When one spouse cannot perform normal household duties due to the injury, the other spouse may file a claim for loss of consortium, which entitles them to compensation.
  • Pain and Suffering: Victims injured in dog bites have the legal right to seek non-economic damages, including emotional distress, past and future pain, and suffering. It includes factors such as the dog's owner failing to control their animal, which resulted in an attack.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Many victims will develop PTSD after a dog attacks them without provocation. These dog attacks are typically the most horrific.
  • Death benefits: If a dog bite victim dies from injuries, their family members may be entitled to death benefit claims. They must prove that the victim would have recovered damages if they had not died from the injuries.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, a dog bite victim may be entitled to receive punitive damages designed as a punishment against the owner who knowingly allowed their dog to harm others through biting or attacks.

This form of compensation is very rare in dog bite cases; however, it may be granted if previous incidents on record with animal control prove the owner knew their pet had aggressive behavior issues.

Dog bite claims may be successful even when a dog owner has no prior knowledge of being an aggressive or violent canine, so long as liability can be established in the attack. A preponderance-of-the-evidence standard test is applied in a personal injury case to determine if the victim's claims have merit.

The outcome of a dog bite lawsuit can be affected by evidence that the victim had been trespassing or provoking the canine, but this does not necessarily invalidate a claim. Most states have a "one bite rule" where the owner is only responsible for their canine's first instance of aggression.

However, responsibility can be established if your attorney can show the dog has been known to attack others in the past or that the victim could reasonably expect that it was aggressive because of the circumstances.

An attorney for damages in dog bite claims can help file a lawsuit against the owner if they knowingly allowed their dog to roam free. In some cases, a judge may order the owner's insurance policy to pay for all financial damages caused by the attack.

Determining Fault and Liability in Dog Bite Claims

Dog bite claims against the owner can be complicated if there is no reliable evidence for determining fault and liability. While it may seem easy to show that the dog's owner had been negligent or otherwise at fault, establishing this fact can be problematic.

In Illinois, for example, a victim may file a claim against the owner if it can be proved that they were negligent or did not provide adequate control of their canine. In addition, owners must keep their dogs away from others to ensure they do not cause accidents, injuries, or harm other people.

However, these claims must prove that the owner was at fault or had failed to supervise their pet when it attacked another person.

Previous instances of the dog attacking others will help build a case, as this demonstrates that the owner was aware of dangers and did not take action to prevent them from happening again.

Owners who do not keep their dogs properly restrained can be held responsible for any injuries and damages their pets might cause. Failure to do so will make them liable for any harm caused and can even result in criminal charges if the dog has harmed someone while loose on public property.

Reporting a Dog Bite

Dog bites are one of the leading causes of personal injuries in the United States, with more than 800,000 reported cases annually. By better understanding your legal rights after a dog attack, you may be able to claim damages in your case.

If a dog attacks you in public or at your home, call 911 immediately to receive immediate medical treatment. In addition, contact your local animal control office to report any dangerous or violent dogs in the area.

Finally, it is important that you also contact an attorney who can help gain compensation for any damages you have sustained.

Compensation for Dog Bite Claims

When filing claims against the owner of a dangerous dog, your attorney can help increase your compensation by filing charges or official complaints against the canine's owner.

They will also guide you through all steps required to file a lawsuit in civil court to claim damages, including property losses and medical expenses.

Negligence is the most common form of liability in dog bite claims, where the owner can be held responsible for any injuries caused by the pet when they are not properly supervised.

It is often shown through previous cases of aggressive conduct by the canine or if it had attacked before without legal consequences being enforced against them.

Explaining the Dog Bite Statute

In most states, the owner or keeper of a canine is liable for damages caused by their pet, including if the dog has bitten another person or acted in a threatening manner.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, like if the animal with its instincts defended itself from harm.

Chicago Local Dog Bite Laws

Local municipal ordinances on dog bites throughout the city of Chicago include additional precautions against animals that have harmed others in the past. Although the owner will still be held liable for damages, certain conditions may apply to ensure they are not unduly forced to pay compensation.

Under Chicago law, an owner may have to pay less compensation if their dog has been attacked because it was provoked or threatened by another person trespassing on their property. They may also have to pay less if the victim was engaging in illegal activities that provoked the pet at the time of the attack.

When there are no mitigating circumstances, owners may still face criminal charges for failing to keep their canine under control. It is most common when a dog has attacked another person or animal while running loose and off its leash.

Owners can also be charged if their dog has bitten someone and they took no action to restrain it or summon medical assistance when needed.

Chicago dog owners are required by law to ensure that their pets cannot escape from the yard or property in which they are kept. If a canine does manage to escape, the owner will be held liable for any damages or injuries it causes to others.

Family Member Dogs

When a canine has been part of the family for many years, its owner may have a strong defense if they are sued following an attack on their property or someone trespassing.

It can be difficult to prove that the pet had the same vicious temperament before entering the family home.

Typical Dog Bite Awards From Across Illinois

In recent years, the most significant dog bite negotiated settlements, and jury awards have included:

  • In 2020, a young victim was attacked by a dog walking off its leash in a Chicago park. The child needed to have extensive facial reconstruction surgery after leaving scars that would likely remain for life. It was reported that the canine had been bitten before but without any serious injuries occurring. After the liability company representing the dog's owner agreed to settle out of court, the victim's family received $4,000,000, including compensation for pain and suffering and medical expenses.
  • In 2019, a man visiting his friends in Chicago sued them after being attacked by one of their three dogs. Before the attack, both owners were away from home, and it appears that the canine managed to escape through an open door. The lawsuit was filed against the dog owners' homeowners insurance company, which agreed to a settlement valued at $2,000,000.
  • In 2021, a young girl left in the care of her grandparents sued them after being bitten by their pet Jack Russell terrier while playing with it on their farm near Chicago. The lawsuit was filed against the farm owners' homeowners insurance company, which agreed to a settlement valued at $4,000,000.
  • In 2020, a man helped a neighbor attacked by their dog while bitten on his right leg and foot. The victim claimed that the pet's owner had dragged him away from his house without any protection, despite the man's wife screaming that he was bleeding badly. The lawsuit against the dog owner's homeowner's insurance company was filed in Chicago and settled out of court for $4,100,000.

How to Calculate Compensation Amounts

Attorney fees and court costs associated with filing a lawsuit for damages vary according to the severity of the injuries and the time it takes to resolve a case. A judge can decide how much compensation you will receive for pain and suffering, which can be difficult to predict.

Different states have different laws determining whether an owner is exempt from liability if their pet causes harm by simply wandering off their property. If they can prove you provoked the dog, a judge will consider awarding a reduced amount in restitution.

The dog bite case is usually resolved through negotiations between victims and insurance companies for the owner. However, if the victim cannot agree on an amount with the insurer, they can file a lawsuit that may take years to resolve.

The severity of your injuries must be clearly defined when filing a complaint. Your attorney can build a convincing case for damages through written statements from friends and family who witness the attack with medical records.

Dog Bite Lawsuit Considerations

When filing a lawsuit or claim for damages, the following elements must be included:

  • Dogs owner's name: The dog's owner's name at the time of the attack is necessary since they are liable for their pet's behavior. If they are deceased, the name of their executor or administrator will be needed.
  • Owner address: The current address for the owner is required to ensure your complaint can be delivered and served by law enforcement.
  • Date of attack: Information about the date you were bitten should be included in your claim. If it happened during a public event or in the presence of a public official, it is important to provide information about when and where it happened.
  • Medical records: A detailed report from your physician should be included in your claim. They will detail the extent of your injuries which are essential for assessing damage amounts.
  • Written confirmation: Written statements by witnesses or bystanders who saw you get attacked are required to support your claim.

What to Do If a Dog Attacks You

If a dog attacks you, you must take the following steps:

  • Seek medical attention: Even if you think your wounds are minor, see a doctor as soon as possible following the attack. It is difficult for victims to recall how much damage was done following an incident accurately.
  • Call the police: It is important to alert law enforcement to track down the dog and question its owner. If you cannot file a claim right away, you should document as many details as possible, including breed, weight, height, color, and distinguishing features.
  • Write down what happened: Keep a detailed journal of the events leading up to and following the attack. It is best to write how you provoked, including who was involved in interactions and where and when it occurred. In addition, write down the breeds, names, and descriptions of any dogs that acted aggressively toward you before or after an incident.
  • Photo documentation: If possible, take pictures of the aftermath as well as any scars or injuries you may have. Keep a journal featuring written statements from people who witnessed your attack as well as medical documents.

In most dog bite cases where strangers provoke dogs, their owners are not liable for damages. However, in those scenarios, victims can file lawsuits against the party who provoked the attack.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim

Are you or a loved one the victim of a dog bite injury? Are you seeking maximum compensation for your damages through personal injury claims and paid out by the dog owner's insurance company?

Speak with a personal injury lawyer today at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC to discuss your case's merits and legal options to move forward toward resolution.

Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and a free consultation.

Our law firm accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your dog bite case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

Damages and Dog Bite Claims Resources:

250M + Recovered for Our Clients
No Fee Guarantee We Never Charge a Fee Unless We Win
Available 24/7 Available 24-Hours per Day When You Need Us
Client Reviews
★★★★★
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
★★★★★
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
★★★★★
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
★★★★★
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa