The Chicago dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are hardly surprised that 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and thousands of these people are injured seriously enough to need medical attention. If you’ve been attacked by a dog, a Chicago dog bite and attack lawyer from our firm can use the full force of Illinois dog bite law to recover financial compensation from the animal’s owner for physical and emotional damages.
Illinois Dog Bite Attorneys Committed to Helping You Recover Maximum Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Illinois ranked second in the nation for payouts for claims made under homeowner insurance policies in 2016. The institute reported that there were 910 claims made against dog owners’ insurance policies in that year, with an average payout of $42,837.
Factors that need to be considered when evaluating dog bite cases from a settlement or litigation perspective include:
- Medical care and bills: Dog bites can have a host of medical complications like infections and require extensive work to repair tissue, muscle, or nerve damage, all of which can call for expensive treatment. Extensive scarring may even drastically change the victim’s physical appearance.
- Emotional and psychological trauma: A dog attack is a trauma that can give the victim PTSD, which can manifest as flashbacks or reactions of fear and panic when they spot an animal. This impacts the victim’s ability to maintain a relationship with people in their lives who have pets.
- Residual scarring: Dog attacks can leave scars that can hinder the victim’s ability to socialize because of low self-esteem and confidence. Children and adolescents might especially suffer from bullying or teasing. Particularly with scars to face, plastic surgery may be required.
An example of a recent Illinois dog bite lawsuit that our office handled involved a 12-year-old boy who was attacked by a dog at a family reunion. The dog bit the boy and pushed him backward into a bonfire in Northern, Illinois. Our dog bite injury attorney made a $755,000 recovery to help the boy and his family recover from the bites and burns.
If you or your child has been injured by a dog and you need a lawyer, complete our online intake form for a free review of your situation. An attorney who has experience prosecuting dog bite cases will personally review your case and advise you of your legal options to recover financial compensation for your pain, disfigurement, lost wages, and medical expenses. While our office is headquartered in Chicago, our attorneys serve people injured in dog bite attack cases across the entire state of Illinois.
Illinois’ Animal Control Act: The Law Controlling Dog Bite Liability in Chicago and Throughout Illinois
Illinois law progressively imposes liability of damages caused by a dog or other animal on the owner of the animal. In the Illinois (510 ILC S5/) Animal Control Act, an “owner” is described as anyone who harbors an animal on their property, acts as their custodian or knowingly allows an animal to stay on their property. This means that a property owner may be liable for injuries that a dog or other animal that resides on their property causes, whether or not they consider themselves the owner of the animal.
According to the Illinois (510 ILC S5/) Animal Control Act, liability of injuries from a dog attack are primarily the responsibility of the dog owner, as stated in Section 16:
Animal attacks or injuries. 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.
In addition, the law also outlines the responsibilities of dog owners to control and restrain their dog or animal. If a dog is deemed dangerous or vicious, the owner is responsible for enclosing or restraining their dog. Each municipality in Illinois may have individual laws and restrictions of all dogs being allowed to be “at large” or unrestrained.
Both Illinois and Chicago law protects the rights of citizens from unprovoked animal attacks and establish that the responsibility of restraining these animals is on the animal owners. When dog or animal attacks occur, in most cases the burden of liability for injuries will be on the owner. This can include medical bills, lost wages, plastic surgery and other expenses.
How Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can Help You Maximize the Value of Your Dog Bite Claim or Lawsuit
Many people assume that there is little that they can do following a dog bite attack in terms of pursuing the owner of the animal for damages related to their injuries.
Our law firm is committed to protecting your rights and taking the steps necessary to hold the owner of the animal responsible for the attack. You can take comfort in the fact that our office has successfully helped people from all parts of Illinois with serious injuries related to dog attacks.
From the time our office is retained in a dog bite case, we get to work to secure the following materials to help ensure that the value of your case is maximized via settlement or trial:
- Medical records and bills
- Dog registration materials
- Veterinary records
- Police or animal control reports
- Professional photographs of bite wounds and scarring
- Reports from experts such as animal behaviorists or plastic surgeons who can help explain the cause of the attack and extent of the injuries
- Correspondence with the dog owner’s insurance carrier
Our Chicago dog bite attorneys have experience prosecuting dog attack cases from all parts of Illinois and will only collect a fee after successfully securing compensation on your behalf.
Types of Injuries Resulting from Dog Bites
The majority of dog attacks result in puncture wounds and lacerations that result from being bitten or scratched by the animal, but other injuries can result from the victim being knocked down during the event or due to biological agents. Following are the most common injuries resulting from dog attacks.
- Puncture wounds and lacerations. These are the most common injuries and most commonly associated wounds associated with dog attacks. Not only do these wounds result in the immediate need for medical attention, but they may cause unsightly scarring that may require multiple surgical procedures to correct.
- Contusions, abrasions and fractures during a fall. Injuries can result from the sheer force of having a dog bring you to the ground and those who suffer the most severe injuries in these cases are the elderly, whose bodies and bones are more fragile than those who are considerably younger.
- Emotional distress and anxiety. A dog bite can cause psychological trauma and some people may become anxious around animals for the rest of their lives after being victim to an attack. If an attack left irreparable scars that have altered the victim’s appearance, it can result in lack of confidence, low self-esteem and depression.
- Nerve damage. A dog bite can cause a person to lose sensation in certain parts of the body, and it can also cause one to suffer from impaired use of a limb when nerve signals cannot communicate to the brain. Unable to communicate messages, person with nerve damage from a dog bite may suffer from impaired movement or loss of sensation. Depending on the location of the bite, the damaged nerve may be permanently damaged or surgically repaired. Nerve damages to hands and arms are common in dog bite cases.
- Infections and amputations. Dogs carry numerous forms of bacteria and other microorganisms around in their saliva and an infection can cause serious complications when treating injuries. If the infection does not respond well to medication or begins to spread quickly, it can result in the need to amputate the affected limb in the most severe cases. Capnocytophaga is the most dangerous infection related to dog bites and can result in extended hospitalization or even fatalities.
- Death. While uncommon, dog bites account for between 35-50 deaths each year. Some of these deaths are related to actual bite-related injuries, while others are related to medical complications associated with the attack.
Child Dog Bite Victims
Children in the age group of 5-9 years of age have the highest incidence of dog bite injuries, while children in general are more likely to have serious injuries from a dog attack. Although there are many theories on why dog attacks on children are so common, some of the most accepted theories include:
- Dominance. It is generally accepted that dogs have a pack mentality and view the humans around them as part of a pack. A dog may view a child as a subordinate in the hierarchy, making them vulnerable to bites.
- Education. Children are less likely to be educated on dog behavior and be able to read the signs that a dog may be about to attack. A child may approach a dog that is in pain or fearful, while an adult can usually recognize these signs.
- High energy. Children tend to move in fast and unpredictable manners, causing anxiety in some dogs. When a dog has anxiety or is afraid, they are more likely to bite.
However, regardless of the reason why a dog may bite a child, it is usually not the fault of the child. Both parents and dog owners need to be aware that any dog can and will bite in certain circumstances, so children should not be left alone to play with a dog nor should dogs ever be allowed to roam freely in a neighborhood.
Dog Bite Injury FAQ’s
Can I Recover Compensation for Non-Bite Injuries Related to a Dog Attack?
Yes. Illinois law allows victims to recover for their injuries when dogs attack them but do not bite them. In fact, the law has a broad view of what injuries count in dog attack cases. Compensable dog attack cases involving non-bite injuries would include: a dog pushing a person down, a tumble down a stairway or a situation where you were injured trying to avoid an attacking animal.
Who Pays a Settlement in a Dog Bite Claim?
Typically, the dog owner's insurance company will pay for the compensation in a Chicago dog bite case. While the owner is the responsible party, he or she will probably have some form of insurance (such as rental, business, homeowner, landlord, or other form of insurance) that pay for a settlement or verdict (in the case of a lawsuit obtained against the dog owner).
How Long do I Have to File an Illinois Dog Bite Lawsuit?
You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries related to a dog bite in Illinois. If a dog attacks you and inflicts personal injuries and damages, then you must file suit within two years from the day of the incident. The only exception would be if you were a child at the time of the attack. In that case, you would have until you turned twenty. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202
What are the Most Common Dog Breeds to Bite People?
While any breed of dog can cause injury to a person, the most common breeds to bite people are pit bulls, German shepherd, terriers, rottweilers and mixed breed dogs.
Does the City of Chicago Have any Regulations for Dog Owners?
Yes, the Chicago Municipal Code has specific regulations regarding animal care and control within the city limits. Under Title 7, Health and Safety, of the Municipal Code of Chicago, chapters 7-12 are dedicated to animal care and control. According to the code, dog and animal owners are required to:
- Animals are required to be restrained. Dogs are required to be confined inside the property line of the owner, including reaching their heads through, under or over a fence. If a dog bites, jumps on, attacks or threatens anyone outside of the owner’s property, they may be subject to a penalty.
- Owner’s responsibilities for injuries. If a dog or animal injures another person or their property due to not being restrained, the owner of the animal may be subject to fines as well as full restitution to the injured party for damages.
- Dangerous animals. If an animal is determined to be dangerous by the executive director, there are additional requirements for restraining the dog or animal. This can include extensive measures to confine the animal, muzzle requirements, sterilization, microchipping, liability insurance, obedience training and other stipulations.
How Much is my Chicago Dog Bite Case Worth?
Chicago dog bite cases are worth just as much as nearly any case in the field of personal injury law if not more. This might be due to the gruesome nature of the incident as well as the serious damage that results. You can expect to obtain compensation well above the medical and related financial costs of the attack. You are also entitled to recover compensation for residual scarring related to an attack.
Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers Ready to Help You
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has experience prosecuting dog bite cases in Chicago and across Illinois. If you or your child suffered an injury during an attack, we invite you to contact our office to discuss your legal rights and options for recovery. All of our dog bite cases are handled on a contingency fee basis where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful on your behalf.