Dog bites are unfortunate and often accidental, resulting in life-altering injuries leading to permanent scarring, disfigurement, and severe trauma. Victims of dog bites often need months of rehabilitative medical treatment at an astronomical expense, with no guarantee that they will fully recover.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys can assist you in recovering the financial compensation you deserve with a personal injury lawsuit, especially if you require extensive medical treatment.
Contact a Joliet dog bite lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We offer legal counsel in personal injury cases regarding severe injuries caused by dog bites.
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 the following –
- 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 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 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 domestic animal 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 attack has occurred, the pet owner must deliver the dog to the local rabies inspector to determine whether it threatens other animals and people. 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 imprisonment.
If you experienced an animal attack, speak to a dog bite lawyer regarding filing a personal injury case to recover financial compensation for medical bills and other medical expenses.
Rabies From a Dog Bite Injury
In addition to physical injuries and emotional distress, 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 must vaccinate their pets against rabies within 30 days of turning six months old, continuing with another vaccination every one to three years after for the remainder of the dog’s life.
After any dog bite incident that breaks or punctures the skin, seek medical attention immediately. The incident must also be reported to local law enforcement or the county health department for rabies testing and includes attacks on people, other animals, and even the family pet.
Any dog attack where the animal ran away and cannot be identified will require the victim to undergo rabies shots to avoid additional harm.
Dog Bites Statistics
According to studies from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), the following have been stated –
- Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year
- 800,000 dog bite injuries that needed medical care
- The US population is approximately 331 million people as of 2020, leading to 1 out of every 73 people suffering from dog bites.
- Over 76% of victims reported being bitten by a single dog
- 18% of victims report being bitten by more than one dog
- In about 38% of the incidents, the dog owner knew their pet was likely to be aggressive before the attack occurred
The deciding factor in seeking compensation in dog bite cases is the injury, loss, or damage the victim suffered, not whether the victim sustained dog bites from so-called dangerous dog breeds such as Pit bulls or Rottweilers.
Dog Bite Injuries 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, permanent scars, nerve damage, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is involved.
Dog bites can lead to litigation when the plaintiff has sustained painful injuries from the neighbor’s dog or an unleashed dangerous dog. Yet, data shows 95% of canine bite attack cases are resolved through negotiated settlements where the victims receive a settlement from the defendant’s insurance company.
Based on the Illinois statute of limitations, the victim and surviving family members have two years to seek compensation from all parties involved.
Dog Bite Victims and Strict Liability
According to Illinois law, domestic animal 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.
In dog bite attacks, the owner is automatically liable for any injuries and costs associated with medical care on top of pain and suffering. Emergency care and hospitalization cost over $30,000 on average in cases where a canine attacks a victim.
In terms of strict liability, proving that the dog’s owner was negligent for their pet’s dog bites is unnecessary. All it takes is proof of an animal attack and an injured victim afterward.
In situations with 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 breed or aggressive behavior is enough to make an owner liable for damages.
A family member’s injuries must be due to a “proximate cause” of the vicious dog attack to be eligible for compensation. Therefore, the dog owner should not have predicted that their dangerous dog would go after another person and not be responsible for what occurred.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
The State Legislature enacted the Illinois Animal Control Act to protect the public from the aggressive behavior of animals and ensure all citizens’ safety and well-being.
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 cannot pay for their pet’s quarantine 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 must 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.
The law enforcement agency must release the dog back into its owner’s custody if no complaint is filed within five days following an attack. When a dog has caused severe injury or death to a person, the legislation states that the pet must be humanely euthanized.
Victims of animal attacks can contact our Joliet dog bite lawyers for a free consultation regarding legal counsel in a personal injury lawsuit.
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 hazardous, law enforcement can kill the dog on-site if it threatens the public.
If the owner is identified, they must 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 against the dog owner.
If a canine attacks a victim, the owner is liable for damages sustained by the victim. 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 Vicious Dog Attack
Illinois does not enforce the ‘one bite rule’ exempting owners from liability when their dog has injured someone for the first time.
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.
If 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.
When a service dog attacks a person with a disability, the victim 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 Dangerous Dogs
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 damage caused by their animals. 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 of up to $1,000 and may result in criminal charges against the dog owner.
Obtaining Compensation for Serious Injuries Related to a Dog Bite Attack
Our Joliet and Cook County dog bite attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, provide legal advice, counsel, and representation to many with severe injuries caused by dog attacks.
Unfortunately, many of our clients have suffered permanent disfigurement, facial injuries, and scarring, requiring extensive medical bills, rabies shots, plastic surgery, and sutures, which has caused a substantial financial burden on the entire family.
A personal injury lawyer from our team of Joliet dog bite lawyers can build dog bite cases seeking compensation for severe injuries against:
- Property owners
- Illinois dog owners
- Pet keepers
- Parents with minor children in charge of vicious animals
- Dog walkers
A Joliet dog bite lawyer will investigate and gather eyewitness accounts and file claims against all responsible parties. Contact our Joliet dog bite attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number), or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation in your case.
We have successfully won many cases for maximum compensation where pet owners failed to respond appropriately, resulting in dog bites or attacks without provocation.
Contingency Fee Agreement
Your Joliet dog bite lawyer accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with your Joliet dog bite lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.