Joliet Dog Bite Lawyer
If a dog has bitten you, it's likely that the animal is aggressive and may bite again. But, unfortunately, the owner might not control their pet or even be aware of its propensity to be vicious.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve using the laws to protect victims of these kinds of legal issues that often go unenforced unless someone takes action against the pet owner.
You don't have to suffer in silence because no one will stand up for your right to be safe in public spaces when dangerous animals are around! Instead, contact a Joliet personal injury attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We can start building your case immediately!
Residents and visitors in Joliet, Illinois, and other local communities surrounding Chicago enjoy the year-round outdoor opportunities, often experiencing open-air adventures with their dogs.
However, the city of Joliet has recently tightened its already strict municipal ordinances to control dogs to ensure the well-being and safety of everyone. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to protecting the well-being of people injured by Joliet dog bite attacks.
Local Dog Parks in Joliet, IL
The area around Joliet is known for its beautiful dog parks situated deep in the forest preserves of Will County. Pet owners can bring their dogs into the forest preserves at specific locations, including five areas designated for off-leash dog walking and exercising.
These areas include the Forked Creek Preserve (Wilmington access), Hammel Woods (Shorewood access), Lower Rock Run Preserve (access along McClintock Rd.), Whalon Lake (Naperville), and Messenger Marsh (access in Homer Glen).
While the dogs can be off-leash, pets must stay within a fenced-in security area to run freely. In addition, resident and non-resident pet owners must purchase a permit for park usage to ensure the safety of all dogs and visitors.
Joliet City Dog Ordinances
Chapter 6, Article II of the local Joliet municipal code of ordinances pertains to owning and keeping dogs within the city limits. Some of these ordinances include:
- Licenses and Collars: All dogs on public streets, sidewalks, alleyways, and other public places must be leashed and wear a durable collar with a current license tag attached. (Section 6-21)
- Running at Large: Dogs in the public areas within the city limits are prohibited from running at large. (Section 6-22)
- Barking: Owners and keepers of dogs must control the pet to ensure it does not take bark, howl, growl, whine habitually, or cry to cause a disturbance in the neighborhood. (Section 6-29)
- Dog Bites: The local rabies inspector shall confine all dogs known to bite anyone for observation and evaluation by a licensed veterinarian. All dog attack victims that have been scratched, bitten, or suffered other dog bite injuries causing a skin abrasion must report the event to local law enforcement or the county health department. (Section 6-51)
Once a dog bite has occurred, the pet owner must deliver the dog to the local rabies inspector, who will take over responsibility for the dog until it is determined whether or not it poses a threat to other animals and people. If so, the animal may be quarantined and monitored through observation by a licensed veterinarian.
Violations of these dog ordinances are considered misdemeanor criminal offenses in Joliet, with punishments for violating the law including fines and possible imprisonment.
Rabies From a Dog Bite Injury
In addition to permanent scarring, disfigurement, or other dog bite injuries, the injured party could acquire rabies from a rabid dog. Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system of mammals, transmitted through saliva or other natural substances entering open wounds on a victim's body.
Dog owners are required to vaccinate their pets against rabies within 30 days of being six months old, continuing with another vaccination every one to three years after for the remainder of the dog's life.
Any incident involving a dog bite that breaks or punctures the skin must be reported to local law enforcement or the county health department for possible rabies testing. These incidents include attacks on people, other animals, and even family pets.
Any dog attack where the animal ran away and cannot be identified could cause serious problems. In addition, the victim will likely need to undergo rabies shots to avoid any additional harm.
Dog Bites and Dangerous Breeds
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) dog bite statistics, pit bulls were the most common breed responsible for attacks on people. The second leading cause was attributed to German shepherds, followed by mixed-breed canines and "hounds."
Of the 885 dog bite injuries analyzed in the study, over half of the victims were under ten years of age. Most of the time, children were bitten on the head, neck, or face.
The AVMA collected this data through an online survey sent out to veterinary professionals in 2002. The results showed that pit bulls and Rottweilers were responsible for the most severe attacks and serious injuries resulting in hospitalization and surgery. Conversely, Labradors and Golden retrievers were responsible for the least severe injuries.
The most common breeds to attack other animals were:
- German shepherd
- Alaskan malamute
- Great Dane
- Doberman pinscher
- Huskies that were most likely to cause injury to family pets
Regarding the type of dog bites, over 76 percent of victims reported being bitten by a single dog, with 18 percent bitten by more than one. In the remainder of the cases, there was conflicting data on whether multiple canines were involved.
In about 38 percent of the incidents, the dog owner knew their pet was likely to be aggressive before the attack occurred. However, this statistic is a bit misleading due to victims not being able to do much about preventing a dog from an unprovoked attack.
Even though your dog may not be classified as a "dangerous breed," it is still an animal capable of inflicting injury without warning. If there's even the slightest chance that things could get out of hand, avoid provoking the pet in any way.
Because dogs can't tell people when they're in pain or feeling ill, it's important to watch for signs of an aggressive disposition and warning signs the animal may be in distress. Some of these include:
- Your pet won't allow you near its food bowl
- Refusing to let family members approach while sleeping
- Hiding in a dark corner or under the bed when guests come over
- Refusing to go outside
The unsettling behavior of a vicious dog is not always obvious. Even sweet, docile dogs may suddenly snap and attack without warning.
If you're the owner of a mild or dangerous dog that has shown signs of aggression or is prone to outbursts, you must keep your pets restrained at all times. Many injuries caused by a dog attack resulted from the animal being tied up in the backyard while being subjected to unwanted interaction.
Dog Bite Attacks, Physical Injury, and Emotional Trauma
Many families will hire a personal injury attorney to handle their dog bite injury case when severe physical injury, puncture wounds, emotional trauma, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is involved.
In these cases, dog bites have led to a serious legal issue, or a family member has been severely harmed by their pet, the neighbor's dog, or an unleashed roaming animal.
According to data, possibly 95% of dog bite attack cases are resolved through negotiated settlements where the victims are paid by the defendant's insurance company that pays for their dog bite injury. Based on the Illinois state statute of limitations, the victim and surviving family members have two years to seek compensation from all parties involved.
Dog Bites and Strict Liability
According to Illinois law, dog bite victims and surviving family members can file a personal injury claim against anyone involved in the animal attack. However, strict liability in civil tort law refers to the responsibility of one party for all damages resulting from an incident.
When a dog bite occurs, the owner is automatically liable for any injuries and costs associated with medical care on top of pain and suffering. On average, victims spend over $30,000 for emergency care and hospitalization following a dog attack.
In terms of strict liability, it's not necessary to prove that the dog's owner was negligent in any way for their pet's dog bites. All it takes is proof of an animal attack and a victim being injured afterward.
In situations where there are no clear guidelines for an incident, Illinois follows the common law theory known as "scienter" or intentional misconduct. In this case, having prior knowledge of a dog's aggressive tendencies is enough to make an owner liable for damages.
A family member's injuries must be due to a "proximate cause" of the attack to be eligible for compensation. Therefore, the dog owner should not have predicted that their pet would go after another person and not be responsible for what occurred.
Teaching Children Which Breeds To Avoid
In recent years, it has been reported that pit bulls have been responsible for more than 50 percent of dog attacks on people. Additionally, in the past 20 years, this breed was found responsible for more fatal mauls than any other dog breed.
Rottweilers and chow-chows were the second and third most likely breeds, respectively, to attack unprovoked. In addition, statistics show that many children are victims of dog bites involving a vicious dog every year. Some of these incidents might involve a police dog, family pet, or stray.
Pit bulls weren't considered a recognized breed until 1981 when the United Kennel Club (UKC) admitted them into a competition. After that occurred, pit bulls began popping up all over the country and were specifically bred to fight other canines in the ring.
Because of the dark period in the dangerous dog breed's history, some groups have labeled it a fighting machine, commonly found on "dangerous breeds" lists.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
The State Legislature enacted the Illinois Animal Control Act to protect the public from vicious animals to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens. Section 505 of this Illinois law states that if a dog has attacked or bitten any person, the local Animal Control Administrator shall investigate and impound the pet for rabies observation following confinement by a veterinarian.
The law enforcement agency will then impound the animal at the pet owner's expense; however, if the owner is unable to pay for the quarantine of their pet due to poverty, then the law enforcement agency will impound the dog at no cost.
If it is determined that the dog exhibits dangerous behavior pending an investigation, law enforcement officials have the authority to euthanize the animal on site. When deciding euthanasia, authorities are required to consider the severity of the bite, the danger posed by the animal in question, and whether or not it has had previous complaints or attacks lodged against it.
If no complaint is filed within five days following an attack, the law enforcement agency must release the dog back into its owner's custody.
When a dog has caused serious injury or death to a person, the legislation states that the pet must be humanely euthanized.
A Vicious Dog without an Owner
The Animal Control Act also outlines provisions for dangerous animals that any known person does not own. For example, if an animal is found running at large and suspected of being dangerous, law enforcement has the authority to kill the dog on-site if it poses a threat to the public.
If the owner is identified, they are required to confine their pet at their own expense, pending further investigation by law enforcement officials. Failure to properly restrain a dangerous animal may result in criminal charges being filed against the dog owner.
Concerns about damages caused by animals in Illinois, Section 12 of the State Animal Control Act states that the court shall order the payment of reasonable expenses, medical bills, damages, and fees to any person who has suffered injury or damage due to an animal attack.
Penalties for a Dog Attack
If a dog's owner fails to confine the pet following a violation of these procedures, they are guilty of a Class C misdemeanor with penalties including imprisonment up to 30 days and a fine.
Suppose the dangerous dog owner is found to have violated this law and fails to pay all fees, damages, and expenses owed to a claimant. In that case, they may be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months.
In general, an owner commits a Class B misdemeanor if their vicious dog attacks or bites another person without provocation or if their animal attacks a service dog.
Suppose a service dog attacks a person with a disability. In that case, the servient must be able to prove that they had a disability and that the animal caused bodily harm before charges may be filed against the dog's owner.
Impounding a Dangerous Pet
In addition to fines and imprisonment, owners who violate these provisions will have their pets impounded for up to 10 days.
Owners are encouraged to purchase liability insurance that covers any medical expenses or damages caused by their animals to protect their pets. If an animal is found running at large and the owner is identified, they will be issued a notice of violation pending a court hearing where they may face fines up to $200.
If the pet is found running at large a second time within 12 months, the dog's owner will be fined up to $500. The third offense will result in fines up to $1,000 and may result in criminal charges being filed against the dog owner.
Recent Dog Attacks Reported in the Joliet Area
In January 2015, Joliet residents became concerned over reports of a series of dog attacks reported in one neighborhood over four months. On four separate occasions, beginning in September 2013, reports of a pit bull or Rottweiler attacking neighbors without provocation.
Neighborhood residents became angry when nothing was done over the preventable dog bites. Many residents became worried about the safety and well-being of their young children, elderly neighbors, and neighborhood pets around a vicious dog.
Getting Compensation for Serious Injuries Related to a Dog Bite Attack
Our Joliet dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC provide legal advice, counsel, and representation to many victims injured in dog attacks.
Unfortunately, many of our clients have been left to suffer from permanent disfigurement, facial injuries, and scarring, requiring extensive medical care, rabies shots, plastic surgery, and sutures, which has caused financial burdens on the entire family.
Our team of Illinois animal attack lawyers builds dog bite cases for compensation against:
- Property owners
- Dog owners
- Pet keepers
- Parents with minor children in charge of vicious animals
- Dog walkers
Our dog bite lawyers investigate cases, gather eyewitness accounts, and file claims against all responsible parties. Contact the Joliet dog bite lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
We have successfully won many cases for maximum compensation where pet owners failed to take appropriate measures resulting in a dog bite or attack without provocation.
Your Joliet dog bite lawyer accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures that you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award. Our attorneys' team will listen to your side of the story and help you determine all of the legal options on how to proceed.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with your Joliet dog bite lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Our personal injury legal team provides legal representation to different practice areas throughout Illinois, including Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Will County, Sangamon County, Kane County, Winnebago County, Grundy County, and others.