After helping many families through dog bite claims, and speaking to countless other potential clients about their cases, we’ve observed some common mistakes people tend to make in dog bite cases, particularly when they choose to proceed without a lawyer.
Claims for dog bite injuries in Illinois are typically brought under the Illinois Animal Control Act. Speaking generally, if you are bit by someone’s dog and you are in a place that you legally have the right to be and did not provoke the dog, then you are very likely to have a winning case. Because the law is so favorable toward the injured party, these cases can often be settled out of court. This is important because many times in dog bite cases, you may know the owner of the dog and you don’t want to be involved in litigation with a friend, family member or neighbor. Because the law is so favorable to the plaintiff in dog bite cases, insurance companies will generally offer a fair settlement as they don’t want to go to court on a case they know they will lose. If you’d like more information about dog bite cases in Illinois please reach out to us. We are here to help.
In this video, we provide an overview of common mistakes in Illinois dog bite claims, in hopes of helping viewers avoid these mistakes:
Mistake 1. Waiting too long to pursue your claim. First, you want to pursue your claims before witnesses’ memories fade and while key evidence is still available to prove your claim. Second, for most dog bite claims, if a lawsuit isn’t on file within the two-year statute of limitations for injury cases, your claim will be barred by the statute of limitations. It is important to note that not all dog bite claims have a two-year statute, so the best way to determine what limitations period applies to your case is to discuss your situation with a dog bite lawyer. Keep in mind cases where the defendant is a government entity may have a one-year statute, and in cases involving minors, the statute generally runs two years from the minor’s 18th birthday.
Mistake 2. Failing to report the case to animal control. It is important to report the case to the appropriate animal control authority so a record can be made of the bite.
Mistake 3. Failing to check animal control records to see if the dog bit anyone prior to biting you. If the dog owner allowed the dog to attack multiple people, it could significantly impact the value of your case. You can typically obtain this information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Feel free to contact us if you need help filing a FOIA request.
Mistake 4. Failing to get the medical treatment you need. It is important to get treatment for your own well being and to help prove the nature and extent of your injuries.
Mistake 5. Trusting the at fault party to take care of your medical bills and failing to submit the medical bills to your own group health insurance plan. In Illinois, the client is almost always better off if they run all their medical bills through their own group health insurance, because group health insurance carriers have negotiated deep discounts to medical bills for their members. By paying your insurance premiums each month, you should be able to receive the discounted rates your insurance company negotiated on your behalf.
Mistake 6. Accepting an early or low settlement without knowing the value of your case. You shouldn’t take a quick settlement before you have a thorough understanding of all the possible damages you may have suffered. And it is a bad idea to accept a settlement without talking to a lawyer about the value of your case. The insurance company has sophisticated systems for valuing cases. Keep in mind when dealing with the insurance company, their goal is to pay you the lowest possible settlement you might accept.
If you have any other questions, or would like a free consultation about a dog bite case, please reach out to us. Thank you.