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Dog Bite Settlement Amount: How Much is Your Case Worth?

How Much Is Dog Bite WorthIt The pages below are a compilation of dog bite settlements and verdicts compiled from various Illinois jurisdictions involving different types of dog bite cases to give to a sense of how these cases are valued.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has learned these facts after representing a lot of victims of dog bites and accidents in Chicago and across Illinois. After the shock and anger immediately following a dog incident have subsided, your thoughts will rationally turn to putting the pieces of your life back together.

At that time, you should contact us so that we can walk you through the ins and outs of the legal system to protect and maximize your recovery.

Think of the courts and the justice system merely as a tool by which you can make those responsible for your accidents pay you back for the pain that they have caused you. We can help you do this.

Damages in Illinois Dog Bite Claims

Like most personal injury cases (such as car accidents) in Illinois, dog bite claims are valued based on economic and non-economic damages to compensate the victim for their injuries
•    Medical Bills: This includes all medical expenses incurred immediately following the attack such as ambulance bills, emergency room treatment as well as medical care that will be required in the future such as reconstructive surgery to repair scarring from a plastic surgeon or an injury requiring physical therapy.
•    Lost Wages: If a dog attack results in an injury that prevents you from performing your work, you can make a wage loss claim as part of your
•    Pain and Suffering: Illinois law allows the victim of a dog bite to recover compensation for past and future pain and suffering. Illinois courts have consistently rejected caps on this type of non-economic compensation.
•    Disfigurement: Unfortunately, many dog attacks result in prominent scarring due to puncture wounds and nerve damage to the face, hands and arms. Even with reconstructive surgery many of these injuries are permanent in nature. Illinois law allows a recovery for disfigurement in these situations.
•    Emotional Distress: Understandably, an attack can cause psychological trauma to both adults and children. In these circumstances, the law allows for damages related to emotional trauma.
•    Disability: While less common, if an attack leaves a person with physical injuries that prevent them from resuming their normal activities, a claim for disability can be made.

Dog Bite Claims & Homeowner's Insurance

The overwhelming majority of dog bite claims are paid by the homeowner's insurance company for the dog owner. If the owner of the dog that attacked you owns a home, they will almost certainly have insurance that will cover your damages.

This is the good part. Most homeowner's insurance policies (and renters insurance) have substantial coverage limits that can compensate you for your injuries. Most homeowner's insurance policies have coverage limits of $100,000 to $300,000 with some policies also carrying umbrella or excess coverage of $1 million or more.

The downside of this is that most insurance companies attempt to defend or deny dog attack cases claiming the dog bite victim provoked the animal or that the damages from your injuries are relatively minimal. Insurance adjusters for these companies may look at a medical expenses related to a bite and make a very modest settlement offer.

Retaining an experience personal injury lawyer soon after the attack can help guide you through the insurer claim process and act as a buffer between yourself and the insurance adjuster as the adjuster cannot contact you directly once you have retained a lawyer.

Illinois Dog Bite Law: What You Need to Know

The first step in analyzing what your dog accident recovery will look like is understanding ¬the law surrounding it. States generally take one of two different approaches in their dog bite laws: negligence and strict liability.

With negligence, the plaintiff must show that the owner did not reasonably ensure that his or her dog could not attack others. With strict liability, the plaintiff must merely show that he or she was attacked by someone else’s dog, absent some special circumstances.

In Illinois, here are all the points that a plaintiff must prove in order to be successful at trial in their dog bite case:

  • The defendant’s dog attacked, or at least tried to attack, the plaintiff;
  • The plaintiff was not trespassing when attacked by the dog;
  • The dog was not provoked.

For more information, see 510 ILCS 5/16.

From the above, it is clear that all you have to show is:

  1. a dog attacked you;
  2. you were not trespassing; and
  3. you did not provoke the dog.

Traditionally, many other states have adopted a one-bite rule. This means that the dog’s owner is not liable for the dog’s first attack. The rationale for this was that the owner did not have knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities before this attack and should not be held responsible until this characteristic manifests.

Illinois does not follow this rule and does require the dog’s owner to have any prior knowledge of the animal’s dangerous character before placing liability on him or her. Therefore, absent trespassing or provocation, dog owners are responsible for all dog bites and attacks of their pets. In Illinois, dog bites are essentially a strict liability personal injury claim.

Also, of note, is that Illinois recognizes animal attack cases where a dog harms a person (but does not bite). An example would be a dog attacking a person and knocking them down. The person could assert a similar claim against the owner of the animal as if it had bitten him.

If you or a family member was injured due to a dog bite, we suggest that you contact your local animal control office so they can document the incident and the owner of the animal.

Typical Dog Bite Awards From Across Illinois

While While the law and circumstances of you dog bite accident are very important, we understand that your first and foremost question will often be “How much is my dog bite case worth?”

This is a very practical and legitimate concern. Lawsuits are not academic exercises in right and wrong.

They are an arduous process to compensate victims for legally recognizable wrongs. With that being said, while every case is different and deserves a careful examination of the relevant facts and laws surrounding the dog bite, here are some statistics to help you start to imagine how much you could recovery in a dog bite lawsuit.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm , dog bites are one of largest sources of personal injury claims in the United States with nearly $800 million in payouts made in 2019.

This breaks down to 17,802 homeowner's insurance claims with an average cost payout of $44,760 on a national level.

Of course, you should speak with a personal injury attorney to understand how these issues affect your particular circumstances and outlook for recovery.

  •  The state average in Illinois for dog attack claims is a little under $100,000.
  • State median returns for dog attacks ranges roughly between $25,000 and $35,000.
  • 79% of all cases recovered under $100,000 and 4% of all cases recovered more than $1,000,000.
  • 68% of all cases in Cook County recovered under $100,000 and 11% of all cases in Cook County recovered more than $1,000,000.

Personal Injury Lawyers Committed to Maximizing the Value of Your Dog Bite Claim

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has experience resolving dog bite cases on behalf of men, women and children injured in Illinois. Our dog bite lawyers know how these cases are evaluated by insurance companies and how to position your case for the best settlement possible.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a dog attack requiring medical attention, we welcome you to contact our law firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights and options for recovery.

As with all of our personal injury cases, we handle dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis where there is never a legal fee charged unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery for you.

Sample Illinois Dog Bite Injury Settlements & Jury Verdict Awards

Below we have summarized some different types of cases involving dog bite injury and dog attacks to help you begin to answer the question, “How much is my dog bite case worth?” See if you can compare any injuries you have to those identified in the cases.

This will help you gather an impression of what kind of recovery has been possible in the past, but that does necessarily mean you cannot gain more in the future.

If you have questions about your situation or the value of your claim, we welcome you to contact our law firm for a free consultation of your legal rights and options with an experienced dog bite attorney.

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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
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