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What to Do After a Dog Bite in Chicago

Dog bites are serious injuries, as even seemingly minor puncture wounds can lead to infections, scarring, and emotional trauma. This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge and resources to handle a dog bite in Chicago, explaining the key steps you should take and why you need an experienced Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer on your side.

Immediate Steps Following a Dog Bite in Chicago

Your top priority is seeking immediate medical attention, regardless of the bite’s severity. Even a small puncture can harbor unseen bacteria, potentially leading to infections like tetanus or rabies.

Visit a hospital, urgent care center, or your primary physician for a thorough examination and treatment. Ensure you document the visit and obtain official medical records detailing the injury and any prescribed medications.

Report the Bite

Make sure to report the incident as soon as possible to the relevant authorities:

  • Chicago Animal Care & Control (CACC): Within 24 hours of the incident, call 311 or visit your local police district to report the bite. This triggers an investigation by CACC to assess the dog’s rabies vaccination status and potential public safety threat.
  • Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control (ARC): If the bite occurred outside Chicago city limits, report it to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office or directly to ARC.

Gather Information

If possible, obtain the dog owner’s name, address, and contact information. Witness testimonies and any available photos or videos of the incident can also be valuable evidence.

If the dog owner has homeowners’ insurance, note the insurance company’s name and policy number.

Preserve Evidence

Document the injury’s severity and location with clear, close-up photos. Take additional pictures of any damaged clothing or surrounding scene. Keep any torn clothing or damaged belongings. These items can be used as evidence in a potential legal claim.

Liability for Dog Bites

Illinois operates under a strict liability dog bite statute, outlined in 510 ILCS 5/16. This means the dog owner is financially responsible for any injuries caused by their dog, even if they claim to have had no knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite.

Also, unless you were trespassing or intentionally provoking the dog, the owner cannot use your actions as a defense.

This puts the burden of proof on the dog owner. They must prove the victim provoked the animal or was trespassing (exceptions to the strict liability rule) to avoid liability.

owners of aggressive dogs are liable for damages

Damages Recoverable

If you have suffered a dog bite in Chicago, you may be entitled to compensation for various damages, including:

  • Medical expenses: All medical bills incurred due to the bite, including doctor visits, medication, surgery, and ongoing treatment, are recoverable. Keep detailed records of all medical expenses and receipts.
  • Lost wages: If the bite prevents you from working, you can claim compensation for lost income. Provide proof of your salary and missed workdays.
  • Pain and suffering: The physical and emotional distress caused by the bite can be compensated. This includes physical pain, scarring, fear, anxiety, and PTSD. Documenting your physical and emotional trauma through medical records and therapist reports strengthens your claim.
  • Property damage: Any damage to your clothing or belongings due to the bite can be reimbursed. Take photos of the damaged items and keep them as evidence.

Potential Legal Routes

Depending on the severity of your injuries and the willingness of the dog owner to cooperate, you may have different legal options:

Insurance Claim

Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bite liability. Contact the dog owner’s insurance company and file a claim for your injury. An insurance adjuster will investigate the claim and make an offer. Negotiating with the adjuster may be necessary.


If negotiations fail or the bite resulted in significant injuries, filing a lawsuit against the dog owner might be necessary. Consult a personal injury attorney at Chicago Lawyers 360 who specializes in dog bite cases. We understand the relevant laws, handle the legal process, and fight for your maximum compensation.

Beyond the Bite

Dog bites can cause significant emotional distress, from fear and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeking professional counselling or joining support groups can help you cope with the emotional aftermath.

Preventative measures are also important. Familiarize yourself with dog bite prevention tips to protect yourself and others in the future. Teach children responsible dog interaction and supervise them around unfamiliar dogs.

Contact a Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer for Support

Getting bitten by a dog can be a frightening experience. By understanding your legal rights and responsibilities in Illinois, taking informed action, and seeking the necessary support, you can navigate this challenging situation with confidence and work toward recovery. Contact Chicago Lawyers 360 at 312-757-8640 to schedule a free case review with an experienced Chicago, Illinois dog bite attorney.

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