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Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer

Did a dog bite you in Cook County, or Chicago, Illinois? If so, Illinois law often allows you to recover financial compensation for your injuries. The dog owner is likely liable for any harm the dog caused.

When you file a claim or a dog bite lawsuit, you have taken the first step to financial compensation for yourself or a loved one who suffered an animal attack.

Attorneys for Victims of Dog Bite Cases

The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC help their clients file a personal injury claim for their dog bite incidents.

While Illinois dog bite laws favor plaintiffs in dog bite cases, you still need to negotiate a settlement with the dog owner's insurance company or prove your case in court.

Our Chicago dog bite attorneys can help clients maximize their settlements, and we will fight for your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your options for legal action.

Dog bite injury lawyer Chicago - Holding a Dog Owner Accountable

Statistics About Dog Bites in Illinois and the US

Data estimate that over 12 million dogs reside in Illinois. There are roughly 73 million dogs in the United States, with a growing number of dog owners.

According to the Humane Society, an estimated 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters annually.

  • Statistics show between 4-5 million dog bites every year
  • Most of these bites are minor, but roughly 20% seek medical attention
  • Children are the segment of the population that is most vulnerable to dog bites.
  • Half of all dog bite victims are children. Most of them are bitten in the face or neck, resulting in severe injuries.
  • Statistics indicate that at least one dog bite occurs every 75 seconds in the United States.

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

That year, the data reveals victims filed 854 dog bite injury claims, with homeowner's insurance companies paying out an average of $48,098 per claim for a total insurance payment of $41.1 million.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately 4.5 million dog bites yearly in the United States.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

According to an Australian study of people hospitalized due to dog bites, arms and hands (45%) injuries 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
  • Scratches
  • Bone fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections

While relatively uncommon, dog bites can be fatal. According to DogsBite.org, 431 dog bite fatalities were from 2005 to 2017. Pit bulls are involved in 66% of these deadly dog attacks.

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

You need to prove four elements to recover compensation in an Illinois law dog bite claim:

  • The defendant’s dog attacked you
  • You suffered a severe injury 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

To prove negligence in dog bites or other animal attacks, you will have to show that the owner or keeper of the dog knew or should have known about the dog's dangerous propensities yet failed to take reasonable steps to control the dog (or another animal) and protect others from it.

Irresponsible dog owners should be held responsible when their dogs bite someone.

Our dog bite attorneys can hold dog owners liable for injuries their dog causes, whether the dog was on a leash or not. Call us for a free consultation, and speak today with a Chicago dog bite lawyer if you are a dog bite victim.

Factors That Affect Liability

Establishing liability in a personal injury case is not always possible. Many local and individual factors can affect liability.

The dog's owner could retain a lawyer to refute your charges if their pet bit someone. The most widely used defenses are listed below:

  • Dog provocation implies an animal biting you because you provoked or forced it. A human cannot threaten an animal and demand restitution for a bite.
  • Trespassing: A dog bite victim cannot file a personal injury claim if they enter a home or wander onto private property without permission.
  • Assumed risk is among the murky areas in dog bite situations. You assume some risk when dog owners warn of a hazardous dog. Going to a dog park exposes you to the risk of getting bitten.
  • Negligence: Dog owners may be held accountable for bite injuries if their carelessness or negligence caused the incident. An illustration could be a dog owner who disobeys regional or national leash regulations. A plaintiff must show, through evidence, that the defendant's violation of these rules or regulations caused their injury to establish negligence.
  • State laws can differ regarding liability for attacks and dog bites. For instance, some strict liability rules often do not apply to injuries brought on by police or military dogs biting someone, or they do not use where there has simply been property damage and no bite-related injuries.

The number of damages awarded in a dog bite case may be adjusted if it is determined that the victim of the assault was somewhat to blame for the attack because of provocation or trespass.

Unsavory pet owners could attempt to claim that their dog is a service animal. However, our knowledgeable dog bite attorney will know the defenses pet owners raise and how to counter them.

Dog Bite Settlements and Verdicts

The amount of money that dog bite victims expect to recover will depend on your serious injury and other damages. Most dog bite injury cases in Illinois settle during negotiations with insurance companies.

Eac hpersonal 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 claims our office has been involved with:

  • $275,000: Recovery for two children bitten on the face and neck by a babysitter's Doberman. The serious injuries required emergency medical attention included in the injury claim.
  • $185,000: Settlement for a boy bitten on the leg by a neighbor's pit bull requiring surgery at a Chicago, IL hospital
  • $200,000: Non-bite dog attack knocked an older adult down a flight of stairs at an apartment building when a neighbor's dog lunged at her
  • $90,000: Settlement for a delivery driver who suffered nerve damage to his hand.
  • $135,000: Out-of-court settlement for a 15-year-old dog-bit victim with a facial scar and emotional distress when a neighbor's dog attacked her
  • $1.2 million: Recovery for an 83-year-old woman who was mauled and sustained life-threatening injuries by two pit bulls that pulled her off of her walker
  • $235,000: A negotiated settlement involved a 79-year-old with Alzheimer's disease and dementia for injuries sustained when her neighbor's pit bull attacked her

We encourage you to talk with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney for a free consultation if you have questions about a potential claim.

Compensation You May Receive in a Dog Bite Claim

There is a reason why these claims’ values are relatively high. When you have been harmed by a dog bite injury or other animal attacks that required you to seek medical attention, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the following in Illinois:

  • Any medical bills or other medical expenses you have paid out-of-pocket. It is essential if you need rabies shots because they result in significant medical expenses for patients, even if they have medical insurance.
  • Serious injuries with scarring and keloids may require reconstructive surgery, which is expensive medical care and could cause you to miss work.
  • Pain and suffering for what you have endured
  • Emotional trauma can be considered when dangerous dog breeds attack you. However, 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.
  • Lost earnings if you are forced to miss time from work
  • Cost of physical rehabilitation

If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack or injures any person who is peaceably conducting themselves in any place where they may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the total amount of the injury.

Did a dog attack you? If so, our Chicago dog bite lawyers at our firm can help you recover the compensation you deserve. We have recovered over $250 million for our clients and are ready to put our experience to work for you.

Claims Against a Friend, Family Member, or Neighbor

The Humane Society estimates that over 60% of dog attack incidents occur in a familiar place, and 77% of dog bite victims know the animal's owner.

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

Data shows that when dog bite victims know their owner, they find it challenging to prove that the dog was previously aggressive. Unfortunately, the dog owner will often deny that their dog has ever attacked anyone.

They may even insist that the dog bite victim must have done something to cause their injury (such as provoking or agitating the animal). Often, such excuses are used in an attempt to avoid paying.

In addition, if there was a prior incident, the victim could show that the dangerous dog was not properly restrained.

In Chicago, The One-Bite Rule Does Not Apply

When a dog bites, it is deemed to have entered into a "one-bite" rule in some jurisdictions. If the dog has never previously bitten anyone, its owner will not be liable to pay damages for medical treatment or other costs associated with the bite.

Strict Liability Statute in Dog Attacks

Under a strict liability statute, the owner of a dog that bites someone can be held liable for damages regardless of whether the dog had previously shown any aggression or whether the owner was aware of any dangerous propensities. However, military dogs are exempt from this rule.

Did you sustain a dog injury? You may be able to get dog bite compensation with the help of a Chicago dog bite lawyer. Contact us for a free consultation.

What to Do If A Dog Attacks You

When dog attacks occur, you should do several things to put yourself in a position to receive compensation if you are an injured person who a dog has bitten.

First, it is difficult to do any documentation at the attack scene because you are bleeding and hurt. You may get witness contact information, but you will likely be unable to do much more.

Here are some steps you should take in the wake of a dog bite injury:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Getting medical attention will document your injury or the potential need for reconstructive surgery as close as possible to when it occurred.
  • Gather information about the dog’s veterinary records to understand the prior behavior of the attacking dog if possible, and get the dog owner’s contact information
  • You should report your injury to the local authorities (Animal Services and a police report) from the scene or as soon as possible to get a record of the incident and identify the dog's owner.
  • As soon as possible, begin documenting the injury, including talking to witnesses to get their recollections. You should also gather all your medical records showing the extent of your injury.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for a free case review to discuss your options for legal action. The dog owner may try to trick you into getting you to make admissions that portray the attack as your fault. Our dog-bite law firm can help you maximize your settlement.

Gathering Evidence And Documentation

Even though your neighborhood animal control facility will probably start its investigation into the incident, it can be crucial for you to start compiling information on the assault. Even before you have reported the dog to your local agency, gathering evidence can be pretty helpful in the moments following the incident.

As soon as you have sought medical assistance, it is advised that you start gathering pertinent information.

For instance, you should note the occasion's time, place, and details. You should also try to speak with other witnesses to the assault.

Additional information or documents that should be gathered:

  • Dog owner details
  • Pictures of the animal
  • Photos of your sustained injury
  • Rabies vaccination certificate (from the owner)
  • Information about the dog's licensing information regarding any previous bite incidents (if applicable)

When Plastic Surgery is Required

Because of their injuries, many dog-bite victims do not anticipate having plastic surgery. However, the wounds incurred in an animal attack are frequently severe, and most dog bite cases can end up on the surgical table.

Consult a plastic surgeon immediately if you suffer from a bite injury. Doing so will help you in the long run - and assist you in making informed judgments to seek compensation and litigation.

Removing Scarred Tissue

Plastic surgery is often the last resort to restoring scarred tissue from a bite injury. Without repair, the victim's skin will thicken, droop, sag, and wrinkle. In addition, not repairing the medical problem could hurt the victim's self-esteem and how strangers perceive them.

Intense scarring could make it challenging to use the damaged area when walking and bending arms, legs, wrists, ankles, fingers, toes, shoulders, and knees. Sometimes, the tissue damage is so profound that it causes chronic pain and arthritis.

Facial Reconstruction

Plastic surgery is often required by a facial reconstruction specialist to repair various parts of the face. This surgical procedure involves using a synthetic mesh or a skin graft from another body part to restore function. These surgeries are costly and can take months to complete.

The consequences can be devastating when a dog attacks you or a loved one.

Hand Reconstruction

The most challenging area to repair is the hand. Any disfigurement could ruin the victim’s career and ability to provide for themselves or their family.

A plastic surgeon will often perform "debridement" to clean and remove dead or dying tissue in the bite wound. The removal of dead tissue could prevent the spread of bacterial infection.

Damage to Muscles and Tendons

After debridement, a hand specialist often requires extensive repairs. These surgeries involve using synthetic mesh and cadaver tendons to repair the wound. Unfortunately, a specialist could take multiple surgeries to restore function to an injured hand, and these procedures are incredibly costly.

Dealing with The Cost of Surgery

Did a dog attack occur in your yard, not on another owner's property? You may have homeowners insurance coverage to pay for the damage.

Are you considering filing a civil suit against the pet owner to seek compensation for your medical costs and lost wages? If so, in addition to filing a lawsuit against the dog owner, you should also file a claim for compensation with your homeowner's insurance company.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys could help you use the law to hold the dog's owner accountable for all minor or life-threatening injuries.

Dog Bite Injury Law FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about dog attacks in Chicago. Contact our law firm for a free consultation with our dog bite lawyers should you have additional questions about taking legal action.

Who Pays for a Dog Bite Settlement?

Should you be attacked in an area where the owner must keep their dog on a leash, you can make a case that the owner was not adequately controlling their animal.

Illinois leash laws clearly state that when dogs bite people in certain public or private areas, the dog owners are at fault for the victim's injuries.

The dog owner is liable for any injuries their pet causes, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. If the owner does not have insurance, you may be able to recover their assets to recover your losses. In addition, the animal control office can take action against the dog's owner.

Can I File a Claim for a Dog Attack if a Dog Did Not Bite Me?

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 a serious injury.

How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle?

The length of time it takes to resolve a bite case depends on numerous factors, including:

  • The extent of your injuries and how long it will take to heal
  • How long will it take to understand any future loss, including the need for additional surgery
  • If you suffer a temporary or permanent disability
  • The availability of insurance coverage
  • The willingness of the parties to negotiate a settlement

Generally, dog bite lawsuits will take 6 to 18 months to resolve. However, some dog bite cases may take longer, depending on the facts and circumstances involved.

Is a Dog Bite Settlement Taxable?

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

However, some parts of the settlement are taxable. For example, both are taxable if you are paid lost earnings as part of your settlement or receive punitive damages.

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

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

In Illinois, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the dog bite incident date.

Failure to file a personal injury case within the statute of limitations will forever bar your recovery from holding the animal's owner accountable. There is an exception to this rule for children, as a minor can generally bring a claim within two years of turning 18, no matter how old they were when the bite occurred.

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 include:

  • Pitbull
  • Mixed breed
  • German shepherd
  • Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Rhodesian ridgeback
  • Saint Bernard
  • Akita
  • Boxer
  • Australian cattle dog
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Labrador retriever

Talk to Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers Today

Those attacked and injured by a dog might be eligible for financial compensation. The law is generally on your side in making the dog's owner liable for the harm that you have suffered. It helps to have a dog-bite lawyer when negotiating a settlement.

The dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC help clients who have been bitten by dogs and need to file personal injury cases in Lake County, Cook County, Chicago, and across Illinois.

Our law firm has many years of experience helping people throughout the State of Illinois recover damages such as property damage for their animal attack cases on a contingency fee basis.

Call a Chicago dog bite attorney today at our toll-free number or fill out a contact form to schedule your free consultation with an attorney and discuss your legal options for taking legal action.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Resources:

Personal Injury News & Developments - Dog Bite Attacks
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