You must prove that the dog was not provoked, that you were legally allowed to be there, and that the defendant is the dog’s owner. These requirements come out of the Illinois Animal Control Act. You must plead and prove all of these points. The complexity of these laws and factual complexities of most dog bites is why many victims seek legal counsel to represent their claims in court.
Illinois Dog Bite Cases
Dog bites and dog attacks are so serious and frequent across Illinois that the legislature passed legislation to address the problem. The relevant language is found in the Illinois Animal Control Act. Within that law, Illinois defined when persons can bring such actions:
“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.” 510 ILCS 5/16
But who can you bring a suit against? Well, of course you can sue the dog’s owner but it doesn’t stop there. Look at the language designating liability:
“Any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her." 510 ILCS 5/2-16
This is actually how Illinois defines owners of animals. Note that it goes well beyond the customary understanding of ownership to include basic notions of control. Using this definition, you might be able to bring suit against a dog walker, a dog kennel, or even a dog sitter. A clear answer on who is responsible for the dog bite relies on fitting the facts of your incident to this definition.
How Are Illinois Dog Bite Cases Different Than Negligence Suits?
There is a marked difference between Illinois dog bite cases and Illinois general negligence cases. The former are strict liability suits. This means that if the plaintiff successfully demonstrates that the defendant committed certain actions, then he or she will be liable. With Illinois dog bite litigation, plaintiffs must show that they were legally and peacefully behaving when the defendant’s dog attacked them without provocation. If plaintiffs show this, then they will win.
Negligence actions are different. Plaintiffs still must prove certain elements but even if they do this the jury still has the right to decide whether they are or are not negligent. This is because negligence is a matter of reasonableness to be judged in the circumstances. The elements constituting negligence include the following: the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty; the defendant breached that duty; the plaintiff suffered damages; and the defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s damages.
STILL WONDERING ABOUT YOUR ILLINOIS DOG BITE CLAIM?
We know that dog attacks are traumatic events. That is why Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is so dedicated to obtaining the maximum recovery available under Illinois law for every single client that we represent. Plus, we only work on a contingency fee basis. We do this because it ensures you will receive high-quality counsel at no cost unless you are happy with the suit’s conclusion. Call us today. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is available at any hour to help you start the journey to recovery.
For additional information on Illinois dog bite injuries, see the following pages: