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Understanding Dog Bite Injury Liability In Illinois

Dog bite injuries are a serious issue in the state of Illinois. According to NBC News, Illinois has the dubious distinction of consistently being ranked amongst the states with the most dog bite injuries. Among states with large populations, Illinois has the most dog bite injury claims per capita. If you have been injured by a dog bite, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.


Illinois Law


The Illinois legal code outlines the standard that determines whether or not a person can be held liable for injuries caused by a dog. To hold another party liable for a dog bite injury, you must prove four required points:


  • You must prove that an injury was caused by the dog;
  • You must establish that the defendant legally owned the animal;
  • You must have been in a place where you were legally allowed to be; and
  • You must not have provoked the dog attack.


Who is an Owner?


The concept of animal ownership sounds simple, and in many cases it is; but it can also get complicated. Sometimes people will attempt to disavow ownership of a dog once an attack occurs. Illinois takes a very broad view of ownership. The goal of the law is to protect injured victims and hold responsible parties accountable for preventable attacks. This means that a person can be deemed the ‘owner’ of a dog for the purposes of injury liability lawsuits even if they do not think they actually own the dog. As an example, if there is a dangerous stray dog roaming around a neighborhood, and someone starts feeding that dog on a regular basis, that person will become legally responsible for that dog in the event an attack occurs. By feeding the animal, they are attracting the animal to the neighborhood and creating risk for everyone else. If someone is caring for an animal, they are legally responsible for any injuries caused by that animal in Illinois.


How is Provocation Defined?


The Illinois dog bite statute is all about protecting the safety of innocent parties. That is why the ownership requirement is so broad. It also means that a person who provokes a dog attack can be completely denied from recovering any compensation.  Provocation includes abuse of a dog, teasing a dog, or any other action that would likely incite a violent response from an ordinary animal. This can become a very case specific determination. The courts use the reasonable person standard to determine if provocation occurred. If a reasonably prudent person would have recognized that the action in question would have caused a violent reaction by an ordinary dog, then the action will be considered provocation. If provocation is in any way a question in your dog injury case, then you need to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.


What Damages are Available?


  • All medical expenses;
  • Current and future lost income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Compensation for disfigurement;
  • Compensation for emotional distress; and
  • Punitive damages.


Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer


Unfortunately, dog bite injuries remain a major problem in Illinois. Dogs are often outstanding pets and companions, but it must be remembered that dogs can pose a real safety risk. Dog owners are legally obligated to protect the public from their pets. If you have been injured in a dog attack, or biting incident, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries. You should seek the professional services of an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer.

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