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

Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer

If you have been bitten by a dog in Chicago, Illinois law often allows you to recover financial compensation for your injuries. There is a good chance that the dog owner will be liable for any harm that their dog caused.

When you file a claim or a dog bite lawsuit, you have taken the first step to financial compensation for you or a loved one who has been attacked by a dog.

Attorneys for Victims of Dog Bite Cases

The Chicago dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC help their clients with the process of filing a personal injury claim for their dog bite injuries.

While Illinois law favors plaintiffs in dog bite cases, you still need to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or prove your case in court.

This is where we can assist you. Our law firm can help clients maximize their settlements, and we will fight for your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation.

Statistics About Dog Bites in Illinois and the U.S.

There are estimates that there are over 12 million dogs in Illinois. Overall, there are roughly 73 million dogs in the United States, and pet ownership is growing in popularity.

Statistics show that there are between 4-5 million dog bites every year.

Most of these bites are minor, but roughly 20% of them require some sort of medical attention.

The segment of the population that is most vulnerable to dog bites is children.

Half of dog bite victims are children. Most of them are bitten in the face or neck. As you will see below, this can result in serious injury.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Illinois ranks fifth in the county when it comes to the number of dog bite claims paid out in 2019.

Also in 2019, III data reveals there were 854 claims made with homeowner's insurance companies paying out and average of $48,098 per claim for a total insurance payment of $41.1 million.

Common Types of Chicago Dog Bite Injuries

According to an Australian study of people hospitalized due to dog bites, injuries to the arms and hands (45%) were most common in adults and injuries to the face (73%) were the most common in children.

Many of these serious injuries involve:
  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Scarring
  • Scratches
  • Bone fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
While relatively uncommon, dog bites can be fatal. According to there were 431 fatal attacks from 2005 to 2017. Pit bulls are involved in 66% of these fatal dog attacks.

Illinois Law to Protect People From Dog Bite Attacks

Illinois has a law on the books called the Illinois Animal Control Act that covers an attack by a dog or other animal. This law is found in the Illinois Code at 510 ILCS 5.

In Illinois, dog bite law is relatively simple. It states that if a dog attacks or attempts to attack someone else without provocation, the owner of the dog must pay the full amount of damages and injuries that are sustained.
Dogs are an owner's property, and the owner is liable for the costs of the damage that their property causes.

When asking what a dog owner must do to protect the general public and themselves from legal liability, you must understand the nature of the law in Illinois as opposed to other states.

There are some states in the U.S. that allow “one free bite.” This means that a dog owner would only be held liable if they knew that the dog was dangerous, which is manifested by the fact that they have already attacked one person.

Illinois is not one of those states. Instead, it is a strict liability state. This means that if a dog attacks someone in Illinois, the owner will be liable for any damage caused by their dog.

The only question that is asked is whether you provoked the dog or were someplace that you should not have been.

The goal of the law in Illinois is to protect the public from a dangerous dog while other states try to balance the interests of the public and dog owners.
Illinois has made it very clear that the law is on your side as opposed to the dog owner.

This is why there are so many claims filed in Illinois. People who are injured by dogs know that the law allows them to obtain compensation.

One of the exceptions to strict liability comes when you are at fault for your own injuries. While the presumption is that the dog owner will be held liable, this will not be the case if you are found to have provoked the dog.

While some dog bites can be avoided by staying away from dogs, many people are attacked when they are simply minding their own business.

As a dog bite victim, your legal rights may be affected by what you were doing at the time of the bite. In other words, while the law is friendly to dog bite victims, you do not have an open license to do whatever you want to and around a dog.

What Is Provocation in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

The term “provocation” is open to interpretation in your dog bite case. In Illinois, a court would actually look at how a “reasonable dog” would respond to any human actions that led up to the bite.

This could complicate the case if it went to court since both you and the defendant would likely need experts to testify about pet behavior.

Here are some examples as to what may constitute provoking a dog:
  • Approaching a dog from behind or otherwise startling it
  • One Illinois case held that accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail was enough to be considered provocation.
  • Playing with a dog too roughly
  • Entering a dog’s personal space
In addition, you may not be able to recover for a dog bite if you were a trespasser on someone else’s property.

Regardless of the situation, owner's should hold the dog when they notice aggressive tendencies.

What You Need to Prove to Win a Chicago Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim

You need to prove four things in order to be eligible for compensation for a dog bite injury claim:
  • You were attacked by the defendant’s dog;
  • You suffered an injury proximately caused by the defendant’s dog;
  • You did not provoke the dog;
  • You were not somewhere where you did not have a legal right to be.

Dog bite injury lawyer Chicago

Illinois Dog Bite Settlements and Verdicts

Most Illinois dog bite injury cases settle during negotiations with insurance companies.

Each personal injury lawyer in our office is committed to securing the best recovery for each dog bite case via negotiation or litigation.

Below are some dog bite incidents, our office has been involved with:
Dollar Sign

$275,000: Recovery for two children who were bitten on the face and neck by a babysitter's Doberman. The severe injuries required emergency medical services that were included in the dog bite injury claim.

Dollar Sign

$185,000: Settlement for a boy bitten on the leg by a neighbor's pit bull requiring surgery at a Chicago, IL hospital.

Dollar Sign

$200,000: Non-bite dog attack involving an elderly woman who was knocked down a flight of stairs at an apartment building when a neighbor's dog lunged at her.

Dollar Sign

$90,000:    Settlement for delivery driver who suffered nerve damage to his hand.

Dollar Sign

$135,000: Out-of-court settlement for 15-year-old girl with a facial scar and emotional distress when a neighbor's dog attacked her.

If you have questions about a potential claim, we encourage you to talk with an experienced attorney.

What You Can Be Compensated for in a Dog Bite Claim

There is a reason why these claims are relatively high. When you have been injured by a dog bite or other animal attack, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the following under Illinois dog bite laws:
  • Any medical bills or other medical expenses that you have paid out-of-pocket. This is especially important if you need rabies shots because they result in a large expense for patients, even if they have medical insurance.
  • Moreover, severe dog bite injuries with scarring and keloids may require reconstructive surgery, which is both expensive medical care and could cause you to miss work.
  • Pain and suffering for what you have endured.
  • Emotional trauma which can be considerable when you are attacked by a dangerous animal.
  • As you saw above, if your child was attacked, you may even be eligible for compensation for emotional pain if you had to watch the attack on a family member because it impacts you too.
  • Lost wages if you are forced to miss time from work.
  • The cost of physical rehabilitation for your injuries.

Claims Against a Friend, Family Member or Neighbor

The Humane Society estimates that over 60% of dog bite incidents occur in a familiar place and 77% of victims know the owner of the dog.
This inherently means that many dog bite victims will know the owner of the animal.

While bringing a dog bite injury claim against someone that you know can sound awkward and uncomfortable, bringing a claim to recover compensation for your injuries is within your legal rights.

Our Chicago dog bite lawyers are familiar with these situations and can generally secure a settlement for you in negotiations with the dog owner's insurance company.

This ensures that your friend, family or neighbor will not pay anything out-of-pocket.

What to Do If You Are Attacked By a Dog

There are several things that you should do in order to put yourself in a position to receive compensation if you are an injured person who has been bitten by a dog.

First, it is difficult to do any documentation at the scene of the attack because you are bleeding and hurt. You may be able to get witness contact information, but you will likely not be able to do much more.

Here are some steps that you should take in the wake of a dog bite injury.
  • The first thing that you should do is get medical attention as soon as possible. Getting medical treatment will document your injury as close as possible to when it occurred.
  • Take down information about the dog and get the dog owner’s contact information.
  • You should report your injury to the local authorities (Animal Control and a Police Report) from the scene or as soon as you can to get a record of the incident and the animal's owner.
  • As soon as you can, you should begin to document the injury. This includes talking to any witnesses to get their recollections. You should also gather all of your medical records that show the extent of your injury.
  • Contact a lawyer to discuss your options They may even try to trick you to get you to make admissions that portray the attack as your own fault. Our Chicago dog bite attorneys can help you maximize your settlement.

Illinois Dog Bite Injury Law FAQ’s

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about dog bites in Chicago. If you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with out personal injury attorneys.

Who Pays for a Dog Bite Settlement?

If you have been injured by someone else’s pet dog, you absolutely have a right to file a lawsuit if you cannot reach a settlement with the dog owner's insurance company.

There is no reason why you would leave money on the table if you were hurt by someone else’s dog, especially when Illinois law is very clear about the dog owner’s liability.

Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer immediately to learn more about your legal rights.

Can I File a Claim for Dog Attack, if I Was Not Bitten?

Yes, the Illinois Animal Control Act covers non-bite injuries that may occur in a dog attack.

An example of a compensable dog attack would be if a dog knocks you down to the ground and you suffer an injury as a result.

How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle

If you have been injured by someone else’s pet dog, you absolutely have a right to take legal action if you cannot reach a settlement with the dog owner's insurance company.

There is no reason why you would leave money on the table if you were hurt by someone else’s dog, especially when Illinois law is very clear about the dog owner’s liability.

Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer immediately to learn more about your legal rights.

Is a Dog Bite Settlement Taxable?

It depends on what your dog bite settlement consists of and how it is structured. In general, most personal injury settlements are not taxable.

However, there are a couple of parts of the settlement that are taxable. If you are paid lost wages as part of your settlement or if you received punitive damages, both of these are taxable.

Pain and suffering and medical bills from a personal injury case are not subject to any federal or state income tax.

How Long do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Chicago Dog Bite?

In Illinois, dog bites, like other types of personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two-years from the date of the incident.

Your failure to file a case within the statute of limitations will forever bar your recovery.

There is an exception to this rule for children as a minor can generally bring a claim within two-years from turning 18.

What Are the Most Common Types of Dog Breeds Involved in Dog Bite Injuries?

According to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, the most common breeds to cause injuries are

  • Pit bull
  • Mixed breed
  • German shepherd
  • Terrier
  • Rottweiler.

Special Considerations for Delivery Drivers and Mail Carriers

If you are a delivery driver for any of the major shippers such as United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx or Amazon and are bitten by a dog while delivering a package at someone's home, you likely have two claims.

The first claim would be under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. A work comp case will provide you with medical treatment as well as lost wages while you are unable to work.

In addition to your workers compensation case, you will also have a claim against the owner of the dog that injured you.

A similar scenario would apply for U.S. mail carriers injured while delivering mail.

If you were injured in a dog attack while working, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer at our firm can assist you with getting full compensation for your injuries. Contact us for a free case evaluation today.

Talk to a Chicago Dog Bite Attorney Today.

If you have been attacked and injured by a dog, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

Illinois law is generally on your side in making the dog owners liable for the harm that you have suffered. It helps to have an attorney on your side when it comes to negotiating a dog bite settlement.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC help clients who have been bitten by dogs and need to file personal injury cases in the Chicago area and across Illinois.

We have many years of experience helping people throughout the State of Illinois recover damages for their case.

Give us a phone call today at our toll-free number or fill out a contact form to set your free consultation today with an injury attorney and discuss your legal options.

Personal Injury News & Developments - Dog Bite Attacks
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