Every dog owner has a responsibility to keep others safe from being attacked or harmed by their dog. When a dog’s owner fails to adhere to their duty to keep others safe from their dog, the owner has an obligation to take responsibility for their actions. Illinois law provides strong protections for individuals who are injured in a dog bite attack. People who have suffered injuries after being bitten by another person’s pet have the right to seek out compensation for their losses. A Champaign dog bite lawyer may be able to help you to pursue this compensation. An experienced attorney could help you recover for all of your damages related to a dog bite, including your past and future medical bills, physical pain and emotional suffering, compensation for scarring or disfigurement, and lost income stemming from the attack.
How does the Illinois Animal Control Act apply to Champaign Dog Bites?
Illinois law requires dog owners to retain control over their dogs to protect the public form harm. The Illinois Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/16) provides civil liability for dog owners who fail to control their dogs in certain circumstances. If a dog or other animal attacks, attempts to attack or injures someone who did not provoke the dog and who is peacefully conducting himself or herself in a place they are lawfully allowed to be, the owner of the dog has liability for the full amount of their civil damages caused by their animal in the incident.
Put simply, 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 probably have a winning case.
The Illinois Animal Control Act is generally thought of as a strict liability statute, meaning that the law presumes a dog owner to be at fault for an attack. However, there are limitations to this rule. The same statute says that an owner is only liable if the attack occurred without provocation. This means that if a claimant was teasing or baiting the dog prior to the incident, the pet owner may raise this fact as a defense against fault for the bite.
Similarly, owners may allege that a bite occurred because a person was trespassing. A Champaign attorney could provide more information about the state’s dog bite laws and what a plaintiff needs to prove to obtain compensation.
Combatting Myth’s in Illinois Dog Bite Cases
No “one bite rule” in Illinois. While other states may still use the old concept of one-bite rules to determine fault after an attack, local plaintiffs do not need to clear this legal hurdle. The Animal Control Act does not require proving the dog had a prior bite or a history of misconduct. An injury victim has a right to recover for their damages even if it was the dog’s first bite.
You have to sue the dog’s owner to get compensation. Many people fail to pursue a claim because dog bite victims typically know the dog owners. They are often friends, neighbors, or even family members. They assume to bring a claim they will have to sue someone, but this usually isn’t the case, as we can typically usually obtain a strong pre-suit settlement from the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance or renter’s insurance carrier because the terms of the animal control act are so favorable toward dog bite victims.
The dog will be put down if I pursue a claim. In most cases where there is a dog bite, the dog is not destroyed by animal control authorities. We typically only see a dog put down by law enforcement when the animal has a significant history of viciousness or prior attacks, or if the first attack is truly devastating and the injuries are extremely serious. In truth, the decision of law enforcement to put down a dog is totally unrelated to your decision to pursue a civil claim for damages related to a Champaign dog attack.
Recovering Damages After Being Bitten by a Dog
Dog bites can be very traumatic events and can result in several types of damages. In addition to helping you prove liability, your Champaign dog attack attorney can help you identify and prove various types of damages that may apply to your case. In dog bite cases, potentially types of damages may include:
- Medical bills (past bills and the cost of future anticipated treatment)
- Physical pain and suffering (past and future)
- Emotional trauma (past and future)
- Disfigurement (scarring)
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Punitive damages (in cases with extreme recklessness)
A Champaign dog bite attorney can guide an injured person through the process of gathering evidence to show how the incident impacted their life. The most obvious effect is the resulting physical injuries. The bites themselves may require a person to seek care for open wounds. This could involve getting a rabies shot, stitches, or even plastic surgery. The costs of your past medical bills and anticipated future treatment are common damages to seek in a dog bite case. Your medical records, journals regarding your recovery, and photographs of your wounds after the bite and healing over time, as well as interviews with friends and family, can all help demonstrate the pain and suffering related to your dog bite.
Dog bites can also be traumatic events. They may leave a person unwilling to be near animals, suffering from nightmares, or experiencing flashbacks regarding the incident. This is common in many dog bite claims, particularly claims involving children. An animal attack lawyer can help gather medical records, notes from counselors, teachers at school for children, and other evidence to help demonstrate the emotional toll a dog attack had on the injured person.
Finally, if the incident forces a person to miss work, their lawyer could help by gathering off work slips from medical personnel, wage loss records from the employer’s HR department, and also can try to determine if future wage loss will occur related to anticipated future medical procedures or disability.
One crucial way a Champaign dog bite lawyer can help you with your case is evaluating the unique facts and circumstances of your case to help you identify all the potential types of damages you may be able to include in your claim. Failing to get this help and neglecting to pursue all of your damages can lead to many common and costly mistakes in a dog bite claim.
Speak with a Champaign Dog Bite Attorney Today
There are several other crucial ways a dog bite lawyer can help you proceed with your case, including helping facilitate reporting the bite to Animal Control, obtaining past Animal Control records to determine if the dog has a bite history, and helping you determine what insurance coverage may be available for your claim.
Navigating the process of a dog bite claim for yourself or for a child can be a very difficult process, particularly given how traumatic the event itself can be. Getting help from a compassionate and experienced attorney can help in three important ways: 1) maximizing the value of your claim, 2) minimizing the medical bills and liens against a settlement, and 3) making the process much easier for you and your family so you can focus on recovery. Our team has experience in dog bite cases and has delivered strong results for clients in these cases. Call today for a free consultation to discuss your case.