If you’re bitten by a dog in Illinois, you have it in your rights to contact a dog bite lawyer to pursue a claim for damages. These damages may include what you have to pay in medical expenses and the costs connected with pain and suffering.
According to the CDC, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly, with over 800,000 people receiving medical attention for dog bite attacks. Half of this number are children.
With that said, some breeds are looked at more closely than others and therefore have a reputation for being dangerous dogs. These breeds include Pit Bull Terrier as well as the Rottweiler and Akita Inu.
Dogs considered less “dangerous” include hunting-type dogs like the Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever, both of whose teeth are softer for catching birds.
With those definitions in mind, many people may not realize that a cute fuzzy-haired dog can also attack. Therefore, you need to focus more on the dog’s behavior than on its breed or appearance.
In fact, research reveals that smaller dogs attack more often than large dog breeds. They usually just do less damage when they do.
Dogs considered more dangerous may also be defined as follows:
Dogs may bite when they feel threatened or startled, or when they have not been adequately socialized. Some dogs are more likely to bite if they have not been spayed or neutered. Dogs that feel ill may also bite because they don’t feel good and cannot communicate how they feel.
One thing is important to remember. A dog often gives some type of warning before it bites. Many people do not realize this and therefore end up in an emergency room receiving stitches or getting a rabies shot.
Dogs may warn you of a bite if they suddenly become rigid or still. They typically issue a threatening bark or growl. Some canines may muzzle punch you. This involves punching the victim first with its nose.
Also, statistics reveal that a dog that is chained is more likely to bite than one that is not chained, as it may feel cornered or threatened.
Dogs that are aggressive may not have the desire to attack but may still do so if they’re feeling threatened. If the dog feels its personal space has been invaded or feels tense, it may do the following:
A happy dog has ears, if pointed, that perk up. However, if a dog is threatening to bite, it may flatten its ears against its head. It may also do this if it feels frightened.
Dogs that are fearful tuck their tail between their legs, attempting to retreat. If they feel intimidated or cannot escape, they may bite their perceived attacker.
A dog that is ready to attack may crouch low to the ground. It may also alternate its weight from leg to leg as if it’s about to jump or run.
Some dogs, which are ready to lunge, will fix their eyes on their victim. The fixed gaze often accompanies behaviors, such as the previously mentioned crouch or flattened ears.
Dogs that are angry or upset often bare their teeth or snarl. While this warning sign is usually associated with an upcoming attack, dogs don’t always do this.
Dogs may also bite you in rapid succession, causing puncture wounds before they tear the skin or cause bleeding. Moreover, most dogs, when they bite, attack the lower extremities (hands and legs) as well as the arms and face if the attack becomes severe. In some cases, victims must undergo reconstructive surgery.
There is no single and predominant reason, however, why a dog might attack. A combination of factors may be involved when a dog bites.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent dog bites. Be aware of the dog’s body language and look for signs that it may be about to attack. Do not approach a strange dog, especially if it is growling or showing its teeth.
If you feel the dog is ready to attack, stand skill, then slowly back away until the dog loses interest. Never turn your back on the dog if you’re under attack. Use a stick or purse to protect yourself.
If you are approached by an aggressive dog, do not run away – again, stand still and avoid eye contact with the animal. You may also want to carry a stun gun or taser if you often walk alone or walk your dog daily. A taser or stun gun will only temporarily disable the animal but will not injure it.
As you can see, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about dog bites and attacks. It’s important to be informed about the facts so that you can make the best decision for yourself when confronting this situation.
If you have been attacked by a dog, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Even if the wound does not seem severe, there is a risk of infection – particularly if the dog was not vaccinated against rabies.
Once you have been seen by a doctor, you should also contact your local animal control agency to report the incident. You may need to file a police report as well.
Illinois is a state that follows strict liability for dog bite claims. Under 510 ILCS 5/16, the owner of a dog must pay the full amount to a victim if their dog attempts to attack, bite, or injure, provided they are lawfully in their right to be on a property or are not provoking the animal.
It is unfair to target specific breeds for potential dog bites and attacks, as any dog can bite someone. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is designed to earmark specific dog breeds, such as pit bulls, placing stronger regulations on these types of “dangerous” dogs.
However, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, BSL may seem helpful, but, in reality, it is not an effective solution to preventing a dog bite attack.
Many states, including Illinois, prefer to identify, monitor, and legislate dangerous dogs separately and therefore do not place a distinction on the breed. This is important to remember when pursuing a personal injury claim. Any dog can bite or attack you. Therefore, the dog, not the breed, should be scrutinized when submitting your case.
You can submit a claim in Illinois if you’re bitten by a dog, and you did not trespass or provoke the attacking dog. To learn more about your rights, contact a reputable dog bite lawyer. A good place to start is Malman Law in Chicago, IL. Schedule a consultation today.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023