When You Need an Illinois Dog Bite Lawyer
The state of Illinois has laws in place for the specific purpose of protecting your legal rights in the event of a dog attack. If you are bitten by a dog, or injured while being pursued by a threatening dog, Illinois law may consider that dog’s owner liable for your injuries. As it does in most states, it depends on the circumstances of the bite, so no matter how confident you are in your case, you should contact an Illinois dog bite attorney as soon as possible to get your case underway.
Who Is Protected
You are afforded certain rights and protections in the state of Illinois, particularly when it comes to dog attack vulnerability. According to the law, if you are acting peaceably in an area where you are entitled to be, and a dog attacks you or attempts to attack you unprovoked, that dog’s owner is civilly liable for personal injury damages. Though that may sound cut and dried, there is always room for complication in litigation, so you should entrust your case to an Illinois injury attorney as soon as you can.
What You’ll Have to Prove
If you and your injury attorneys pursue the case, you may have to be able to prove that you were acting and injured under the circumstances described in the Illinois law. For example, you may have to be able to prove that you did not provoke the dog to attack, or that you were not trespassing at the time of the attack. Depending on the circumstances of your bite and whether or not witnesses were present, this may or may not be particularly difficult—which is exactly why you need a good dog bite injury attorney. This type of injury attorney has worked with these types of cases before, and knows how to present your injury and your case in such a manner as to increase the likelihood of receiving compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) What is the “one bite rule,” and does it apply in Illinois?
The “one bite rule,” applicable in many states, gives a dog owner a free pass from liability if the dog has never acted aggressively before. The “one bite rule” does NOT apply in Illinois. Illinois dog bite law holds a dog owner strictly liable for an attack, as long as certain preconditions are met (the victim was not trespassing, the victim did not provoke the dog, etc.).
You do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent, which makes it much easier for you to win a lawsuit. Insurance companies, realizing this, are more likely to offer an adequate settlement offer than to allow that case to proceed to a lawsuit that they know they will probably lose.
2) Can I sue someone other than the owner of the dog?
Yes, you can sue the “keeper” of a dog, which might not be its owner. An employee of a dog kennel, for example, might be able to sue the kennel for injuries; a dog sitter might be liable under certain circumstances, and even the landlord of an apartment complex who allows a dog to roam freely through common areas could be held liable for a dog attack. Liability often depends on the specific facts of each case, however. In some cases, such as in the landlord example above, you might have to prove that the defendant was negligent.
3) Are dog bites covered by insurance?
Yes, dog bites are generally covered by homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance, although these policies might not provide full coverage. Since dog bites account for about one-third of all homeowner’s policy payouts, to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars every year, there is a trend for insurers to limit their coverage of dog bites. Some policies, for example, exclude certain breeds (such as pit bulls) from coverage.
If you find that the dog owner is not insured for dog bites, or if the homeowner’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your claim, you may have to file a lawsuit against the dog owner directly. This could be problematic, of course, if the dog owner lacks the resources to pay out a verdict or settlement. If you are bitten by a commercial dog such as a guard dog, however, you will be able to sue the company that owns the dog.
4) Can I shoot a vicious dog to protect my family?
You do so at your own risk, unfortunately. The only laws that directly protect someone who shoots a dangerous dog is if the dog is in the process of attacking or preparing to attack livestock. If the dog is in the process of attacking a human, although you have the right to shoot it in self-defense or the defense of others, you may be required to prove your justification later or face cruelty to animal charges.
Shooting a dangerous dog that is not threatening anyone at the time you shoot it will almost certainly get you into trouble. Instead, you should contact the local animal control authorities and try to get the dog designated as a “dangerous dog.” Once a dog is designated “dangerous,” animal control authorities can order the dog to be spayed or neutered, microchipped, and/or muzzled. It is unlikely that a dog with an owner will be “put to sleep,” however, unless it has already caused serious physical injury to a human.
5) How can a lawyer help me pursue a dog bite claim?
A good Chicago dog bite lawyer can help you secure full compensation for your injuries. Nationwide, only about one percent of dog bite victims received even a dime in compensation. Most of this one percent elite were represented by attorneys. Moreover, insurance companies typically offer unrepresented dog bite victims only one-fifth to one-tenth of what they are willing to offer a victim who is represented by an attorney. Obviously, then, a good dog bite lawyer can more than pay for his or her own fees by drastically increasing the amount of your recovery.
Assembling admissible evidence is tricky business, and a good Illinois dog bite lawyer will know how to document your medical expenses, including estimated future medical expenses, in order to ensure that you receive maximum compensation. He or she will also know when and how to claim non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Indeed, with a good lawyer on your side, you might end up collecting more for pain and suffering than you collect for medical bills and lost work time combined. In extreme cases, such as when a dog owner “sics” a dog on someone, punitive damages may even be available.
Contacting a Dog Bite Injury Attorney with Experience
If you’ve been injured in a dog attack, you need an attorney experienced with cases like yours. Contact Malman Law for a free consultation.