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Jonathan Rosenfeld

July 9, 2023

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Elgin Dog Bite Lawyer

Dogs are wonderful pets, but they can also be dangerous. For example, some dogs may bite or attack other animals or people without warning. So even if you’re careful around a dog, it could still hurt you in an instant. In addition, if another animal or person injures your pet, there may be grounds for legal action against the owner of the offending dog.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Elgin dog bite lawyers could help you determine whether you have grounds to file suit and what damages might be recoverable under Illinois state law. Your lawyer will work with experts to build your case and pursue compensation from liable parties on your behalf.

Call an Elgin personal injury lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

The City of Elgin and Dogs in Public Areas

The densely populated city of Elgin, Illinois, is home to more than 110,000 residents. Because of its year-round outdoor activities, the community offers pet-friendly opportunities for visitors, guests, and residents alike.

Educating the Public

To ensure the safety of everyone, government officials have enacted various city ordinances and offered a community education program to teach children and pet owners how to remain safe when around dogs in public and private areas.

Children are encouraged to stay away from any restrained or stray dog. Pet owners are provided various tips, including always keeping their pets on a secured leash when off their private residence, never leaving the animal alone inside an enclosed vehicle or outside without shelter, water, or food.

Revamped Elgin City Ordinances

In 2010, Elgin revamped their dog control ordinances to protect the public against vicious canines. Unfortunately, even with the new changes, two dog attacks occurred within weeks of the newly enacted ordinances.

One attack involved aRottweilerbiting a 10-year-old child belonging to the dog’s owner. In a different incident, a dog owner and her leashedLabrador-terrier mix dog were attacked by a pit bull on Gansett Street. The victims in both attacks required extensive medical treatment.

Municipal Code

Elgin’s municipal code includes various ordinances under Chapter 7, which regulates the control of animals, including dogs and cats. Some of these ordinances involve:

  • Registering and Licensing Dangerous Dogs: If the pet is designated as a “Dangers Dog,” it must be registered and licensed in Elgin. It is unlawful for any dog owner or keeper to possess, maintain, harbor, or be in custody or care of a dangerous dog without it being registered. (Section 7.04.040)
  • Rabies Vaccinations: All dogs within the city limits six months or older must maintain current vaccination against rabies as administered by a licensed veterinarian. Every brand and type ofanti-rabiesvaccine used must be approved and recognized by the Department of Agriculture of both the state of Illinois and the US Federal government. (Section 7.0 4.070)
  • Prohibited Conduct: Dog owners must maintain control of their dog to avoid the potential of any prohibited conduct, including running at large, disturbing the peace, attacking, and biting. (Section 7.0 4.100)
  • Dangerous Behavior: Pet owners have a legal obligation to avoid any dangerous behavior of their dog, including injuring or biting individuals or domestic animals on private or public property when unprovoked. It includes approaching or chasing individuals and domestic animals on the city’s sidewalks, streets, or any private or public property that is considered menacing or an apparent assertiveness to attack. (Section 7.0 4.100B1)

Dangerous dogs are defined as any dog that injures, bites, or chases another individual or animal without provocation or behaves in any manner that creates a threat of imminent danger to individuals or other animals.

Dog Bite Dangers

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), dog bites are a significant public health problem, especially for children. About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs, with about 1 million bites requiring medical attention each year.

Dog bites can cause serious injury or even death. Dog attacks have been known to damage the eyes, inflict deep cuts that require extensive stitches, and cause puncture wounds that result in infections. In addition, severe dog bites can damage muscles, tendons, and cartilage.

Officials with the CDC recommend that children first learn about safety around dogs by participating in education programs at their school or community centers so they know how to act when they encounter a pet.

Parents should also provide their children with educational tools on safety around animals, instruct them to never play with or pull on a dog’s ears or tail, and stay away from strange dogs they don’t know.

An Elgin resident recalls the moment when his neighbor’s pit bull took a serious bite off of his right arm in 2015 after he asked the owner for help with her aggressive dog. He stated that the dog owner replied, “I don’t care if he kills you. I don’t even know you.”

The incident prompted his neighbor to make an appointment with a lawyer, and she was given three options; euthanizing the dog, having it relocated, or quarantining it. Her family opted for the last option, and she chose to have the dog quarantined under the care of a local kennel.

In 2015, pit bull breeds were responsible for the most fatal dog attacks in the US, 64-percent. The breeds responsible for the next highest number of attacks were Rottweilers at 10-percent, followed by mastiffs at 6-percent.

Experts recommend that dog owners always take measures to prevent their dogs from becoming a threat to the community and follow the laws strictly in their jurisdiction regarding dangerous breeds of dogs.

The Statute of Limitations

Under Illinois law, dog bite victims can file a compensation claim against the animal’s owner and others involved in a dog bite attack. However, the law restricts the time to file a claim within three years of the incident date or when the person turns 18, whichever is longer.

Last month, an Elgin woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against her landlord after being attacked by one of his pit bulls in December 2016. Although according to the victim’s attorney, under Illinois law, dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites.

They are not entitled to any form of contributory negligence, which means that the victim cannot be held responsible for the injury.

Licensing a Dog

Until May 28, 2017, Illinois residents had the opportunity to purchase license tags for their pets at a discounted price during Black Friday week. The cost of licensing dogs varies depending on the county a person lives in, and an annual dog license can cost anywhere between $5 to $100.

Dog owners who don’t license their pets could face penalties ranging from $50 to $500 or be forced to pay for boarding fees if picked up by animal control officers. However, licensing provides dog owners with multiple benefits.

Establishing Illinois Liability: Dog Owners and Animal Attack and Bites

Determining liability under the law can be challenging. Dog owners are responsible for controlling their pets at all times.

However, the law does not consider dogs as “inherently dangerous” or make any provision for common carriers, like bus companies, to be liable for serious injuries caused by animals on their buses.

Once a dog owner has been identified, seven issues need to be determined under Illinois law to establish liability include:

  • The dog’s tendency towards violence
  • The foreseeability of the victim being attacked by a dog
  • The owner’s knowledge of the dog’s violent tendencies
  • Whether the victim was trespassing on the property where the attack occurred
  • Whether or not the owner had reason to know that their dog would attack someone
  • Whether the victim was engaged in a lawful activity
  • Whether their presence on the property where they were attacked was unlawful
  • Whether the owner could have used less violent means to control their dog

Rights of Dog Bite Victims Under Illinois Law

A person who has been bitten by a dog, cat, horse, farm animal, or any other type of pet has the right to sue for compensation under Illinois law.

Once a victim proves that they were conscious and aware at the time of the incident, if the dog owner was negligent in any way, it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a written lease between them. The victim can still claim up to $50,000 in economic and non-economic damages.

If a victim were to die due to the injuries they received from the dog attack, their estate could file for an additional $25,000 under state law.

An animal control officer or anyone else who takes possession of dogs deemed dangerous due to attacks on other animals, or human beings may take the dog to a veterinarian to be put down. If the dog proves vicious and has caused serious injuries to other animals or people, it can be ordered destroyed by a court.

Is it Worth Suing Pet Owners Over a Dog Bite?

A dog attack can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. Typically, the victims and surviving family members have numerous legal options for financial recovery, especially if permanent disfigurement, life-threatening injuries, permanent scarring, or death resulting from the animal attack.

In nearly all Elgin dog bite cases, a legal professional can claim damages from all parties involved. These parties could include the dog owner, dog handler, property owner, or any other third party held responsible for the injuries.

A nearly successful Elgin dog bite case filed against the city of Chicago in 2015 sought $50,000 in damages for a woman who suffered life-threatening injuries after being attacked by two large dogs while walking down the sidewalk in front of their home.

The case, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, stated that the city was negligent in its duties when they failed to provide sufficient training for animal control officers on how to deal with vicious dogs and ultimately lost track of these two animals.

The victim fell to the ground after being bitten by one of the dogs. She suffered a broken nose, fractured facial bones, and numerous cuts and bruises in the attack.

Avoiding Dangerous Dogs

Anyone in public and take specific steps to prevent an animal attack leading to severe injuries and death. According to statistics, there are nearly 1.5 million dog bites that occur each year in the US.

Under the law, dogs are considered property, and any injuries must be sought out through the homeowner’s insurance policy. Victims can recover damages if it is established that their pet or animal caused bodily harm to other individuals.

If possible:

  • Avoid direct contact with any unfamiliar animal
  • Do not pet or attempt to play with unknown canines
  • Maintain direct eye contact for as long as possible
  • Always give the dog the right-of-way, even if they appear friendly
  • Make noise when approaching a home where pets are present
  • Keep children close by and under control at all times. If you have little ones at home, keep them inside until you are certain the dog has been chained outside
  • If possible, bring your cell phone with you on walks to call for help in case of an emergency

Remember, many domicile dogs are extremely protective among others close to their property, things, owners, and other family members. But, unfortunately, sometimes, these canines do not have a friendly bone in their body even though they may seem approachable.

Steps to Take after an Animal Attack

If a vicious animal, unfortunately, attacked you, the steps you take immediately afterward could have a direct impact on your health and well-being in the future. Steps to take include:

  • Seek emergency medical help. If you have been attacked or your pet has been killed, contact a health care provider immediately to assess the damage and provide treatment to prevent any related infections.
  • Get in touch with a personal injury attorney. A legal professional will explain your options for filing personal injury claims against dog owners if their actions have caused bodily harm.
  • Gather evidence to support your compensation claim, take pictures of the bite marks or wounds, your injuries, and any other evidence supporting your case.
  • Contact animal control officials. If there is another dog on the loose in the area, you should also contact local authorities to warn others about this specific attack.
  • Prepare your dog bite case using civil tort strategies and strict liability laws to pay your medical bills for ongoing medical care, therapy, and rehabilitation while healing.

Suppose the dog owner’s actions caused your common injuries. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, ongoing medical care and rehab, and pain and suffering.

In Cook County and Kane County, if a canine attacked you and you have suffered an injury, a personal injury attorney can review your case to assess whether or not the dog owner was negligent in their actions.

Negligence Claim

These Elgin dog bite cases are founded on a “negligence claim” and, if filed, could result in financial restitution for medical costs, lost wages from time away from work, and additional damages for pain and suffering.

Before filing a personal injury claim, note that Chicago has one of the strictest dog bite ordinances against aggressive dogs.

The law states that if you were bitten by any “dangerous animal,” which is defined as an animal with previously documented behavior problems or who bit another person or animal in the past, you have three days to contact Animal Care & Control. If this does not occur, you will be required to arrange for the animal to be euthanized.

Even if your case sounds weak, an Elgin dog bite lawyer can review your claim and tell you what steps should take place next. So while it may seem like there are no legal options available to you, the reality is that this could be false.

If your claim is likely to evolve into a lawsuit, your Elgin dog bite attorney will typically send out demand letters to the insurance company associated with the dog’s owner. If they refuse to pay up, you can file suit.

While it may seem like an uphill battle to fight against a homeowner or dog owner with the insurance company, this is not true. Dog bite attorneys are experienced in fighting on behalf of their clients to ensure that they deserve compensation after an attack.

When filing an animal attack claim, you will likely need to prove two key components: negligence and harm done. As mentioned earlier, the legal requirements surrounding “negligence” can vary depending on where you live.

To win your dog bite case, you must be able to prove all of the following:

  • Although the dog owner is legally responsible for controlling their pet, they did not take proper precautions for ensuring your safety around their animal (i.e., posted warning signs, secured leash properly), and this lack of precaution caused you harm
  • Dog bites harmed you due to the owner’s lack of precaution around their animal
  • The harm caused by the attack has directly impacted your health, including psychological trauma or financial losses (i.e., medical fees)
  • If you can prove all of these components in court, then you may be awarded financial compensation for your dog bite injuries and related damages
  • If you are unable to win your dog bite case due to a lack of legal standing or evidence, an animal accident attorney may still be able to assist if the attack occurred on someone’s property

Specifically, some law firms work on a contingency basis, meaning that the Elgin dog bite lawyer does not get paid unless you do. It means that your upfront costs for hiring legal representation are not as high as they would be with a traditional attorney.

Dog Bite Lawyers Serving Elgin, Illinois

The Elgin dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC encourage all victims of dog bites to seek immediate medical treatment. Unfortunately, many of our clients are victims of dog attacks and bites left with serious dog bite injuries, including blindness, lacerations, cuts, and scarring that require extensive reconstructive plastic surgeries.

Many attacked victims suffered not only injuries but also emotional trauma that must be addressed by psychological counseling.

Are you a dog bite victim, or did you lose a loved one through the negligent actions of the dog owner?

Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.

Your Elgin dog bite attorney accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits, including those involving animal bites, on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

We currently handle personal injury claims throughout Illinois, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Sangamon County, Will County, Winnebago County, etc.

Elgin Dog Bite Lawyer Resources:

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