With anywhere from 70-80 million dogs in the country, nearly every person in Chicago has had a dog or had a neighbor with a dog. Generally, dogs fit very happily into our lives, providing priceless companionship to millions of people. However, there are dogs that become aggressive and end up attacking people. Dogs may become aggressive for a number of reasons ranging from poor training to neglectful owners. Regardless, when a dog bites someone, the injured person has the ability to collect compensation for their losses.
Dog Bite Laws in Illinois
In Illinois, not only dog bites, but all animal attacks are governed by laws in the Illinois code of laws. Specifically, statute 510 ILCS 5/16 lays out the circumstances that must be present for a person to be able to recover damages related to a dog or animal bite. The injured person must prove the following in regards to the dog attack to establish the owner as the liable party for the bite:
- The dog (or other animal) attacked or attempted to attack the person who was injured;
- The injured person was attacked in a place where they had a legal right to be in (for example, a public park as opposed to trespassing on private property); and
- The dog or animal was not provoked in the attack.
Not only can a person in Illinois claim damages for injuries specifically from a dog bite, they can also receive compensation for injuries sustained due to other animal behaviors. An example of another injury coverable would be a jogger who is injured by a dog running out of the yard and jumping on the jogger, knocking them over.
Illinois Strict Liability Law
For dog bite cases, Illinois follows a strict liability model. What this means is that the owner or keeper of the dog or other animal will be held liable regardless of whether or not the dog showed any signs of aggression previously. If a person is injured by a dog, the owner is not able to defend themselves by saying they had no knowledge that the dog might act in a way that would cause injuries.
Fighting a Dog Bite Claim
When an owner wants to defend themselves against a dog bite claim, there are basically two options available to the in Illinois: trespassing and provocation. According to the Illinois dog bite law, the injured person must have been legally present in the location the attack occurred. Thus an owner of a dog may claim that injured person was trespassing on private property, consequently removing liability from the owner. In addition, if it can be proven the dog was provoked, the owner would no longer be liable.