A dog may be man’s best friend, but every day in America about a thousand people visit emergency departments for dog bite injuries. These can have long-term serious effects, both physical and psychological. They can even be fatal. Though fatalities are rare, animal attacks almost always result in terrible pain and suffering, and can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills and other expenses. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an unprovoked animal attack, Illinois law has provisions that make the animal’s owner responsible for paying for all of your damages. Don’t underestimate the severity of the effects or the magnitude of the damages suffered from a dog bite. Consulting with a knowledgeable Decatur dog bite lawyer is crucial to hold the owner responsible for his or her negligence and to recover fair and just compensation for your damages.
Dog Bite Facts
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that dog bites result in about 1,000 ER visits per day, with about 25 hospital stays per day across the United States
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most dog bite injuries occur to the arms, hands, legs, feet, head or neck
Sadly, most dog attack victims are children, with about 50% of dog attacks involving children less than 12 years old, and about 70% of fatalities occurring in children under 10 years old
Most attacks occur in a familiar place, often on the pet owner’ s property
According to the website, dogsbite.org, a website that compiles national statistics on dog attacks, there were 48 dog bite fatalities in the United States in 2019.
Unfortunately, many of the breed and crossbreed mixes that are most popular in Illinois are the ones listed as the most commonly involved in dog bite related human fatalities, according to the CDC.
How do dog bite cases work in Illinois?
Here is an overview video on dog bite cases in Illinois:
Illinois Law on Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
The Illinois Animal Control Act makes a negligent owner liable for any injuries or damages resulting from an unprovoked attack by his dog or other animal. This applies to any injuries sustained, even if the animal only tries to attack, whether or not a bite wound occurs. To recover for the damages, you must prove the following elements:
the owner’s (or whoever was in actual control of the animal at the time) animal attacked, attempted to attack, or otherwise injured you
you didn’t provoke the attack
you had a right to be where the attack occurred, and
A knowledgeable and experienced Decatur dog bite attorney, working for you as early as possible, will help you determine the responsible party and get just compensation for the negligence.
Dog Attack FAQs
What should I do after a dog bite?
Despite your reasonable efforts to be safe and avoid provoking a dog, it may attack anyway. What comes next?
get a medical evaluation and treatment as soon as possible
exchange personal information with the animal’s owner and any witnesses to the attack
report the attack to the police or appropriate animal control agency, especially if the dog’ s rabies status is unknown
take pictures of any injuries you suffered
preserve and don’t wash any evidence, like your clothing or personal property that might have been damaged in the attack
keep copies of bills and receipts for any expenses, medical or otherwise
write down anything you can remember about the attack
there may be insurance coverage for the damages, such as homeowners or renters insurance. Avoid the temptation to settle quickly, without allowing time to see how your injuries heal or before getting knowledgeable legal advice from a dog bite attorney
it’s generally best to avoid direct contact or discussions with the owner, or with an insurance adjuster, until you have secured legal representation
What kind of injuries to dog bites typically cause?
Animal attacks can result in many painful and traumatic injuries. These include:
bite puncture wounds, scratches, lacerations, or other soft tissue injuries
other injuries resulting from trying to flee or avoid an attack
wound or bone infections, sometimes with unusual bacteria
scarring and disfigurement that may require reconstructive procedures
life-changing emotional distress; the fear of dogs and its consequences can be long-lasting
What damages can you be compensated for?
The severity and extent of your injuries will, of course, determine the damages. But, these may include:
all of the costs of medical and surgical treatment
any other expenses that you incurred as a result of the attack or in caring for it
any resulting lost income or wages
any physical therapy or rehabilitation expenses
compensation for any permanent scarring or disfigurement you suffered
damages for pain and suffering or any emotional distress that resulted from the attack
reimbursement for any psychological services or counseling necessitated by the attack
in the worst case, if the attack resulted in the death of a loved one, you’re entitled to compensation for the wrongful death caused by the negligence
Why are children at higher risk from dog attack?
CDC studies point out that children between five and nine are the most common victim of dog bites, with the majority occurring at the pet owner’s home. There are several reasons for this. Kids have a natural curiosity, but a lack of experience makes them less likely to recognize the possible warning signs of an attack. Being smaller and more fragile, they may be less able to defend themselves, and therefore more likely to suffer serious injury or a fatal outcome. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be at face level with the animal, and therefore more likely to suffer disfiguring facial injuries. Finally, because they are earlier in their psychological development, children are also more susceptible to suffering long-term psychological consequences from a serious attack.
How long do I have to file a dog bite claim in Illinois?
Typically, the statute of limitations for dog bite cases in Illinois is two years. A longer statute of limitations may apply when the victim is a minor, as a minor would typically have two years from when they turn 18. In rare cases, like when the animal is owned by a government entity, a one year statute of limitations may apply. The best way to determine what statute of limitations applies to your case is to take advantage of a free consultation with a Decatur dog bite lawyer.
What can a Decatur Illinois dog bite lawyer do for you?
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of an animal attack, you have the right to fair and just compensation. You should not bear the consequences of the owner’s negligence when an aggressive and dangerous animal attacks you. Owners have a responsibility and obligation to protect people from attacks by their pets. The owner of a violent dog or animal should not be allowed to avoid paying for the effects of its harmful behavior. This is important not just for your recovery, but to prevent future episodes. But, the dog owner may be a friend, acquaintance, or even a family member. Dealing with them yourself may be uncomfortable. However, it’s important to remember that the owner may not bear the expense of settling a claim — more often there is coverage for animal attacks in homeowner or renters insurance policies. But, insurance companies always try to minimize claim payments. To receive fair compensation, you need to have a knowledgeable attorney in your corner. I’ll listen carefully to assess your situation and give you my best legal advice about your options for getting a fair recovery. I’ll deal with the owner and any insurance companies. I’ll help to gather the evidence and, if needed, make sure that the dog is evaluated by the proper authorities. I’ll make sure that you are treated fairly.
How much will it cost to get representation by a Decatur dog bite attorney?
If you’re the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, you owe it to yourself to obtain fair compensation for the harm you suffered. I can help. Most of these cases are settled without going to court. Insurance companies will usually settle to avoid the risk of adverse judgments and higher court costs. In some years, insurance companies pay over $1 billion per year for claims resulting from animal bites. I usually represent clients in these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if I accept your case, I get paid from the settlement only if I am successful in recovering damages for you. And, your initial consultation is always free. There’s no reason to try to deal with the consequences of this attack on your own.
Get help now with your dog bite case
Call now for a no obligation, free legal consultation. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have, advise you about the value of your case, strategies for identifying insurance coverage, and help develop a plan to maximize your compensation. If you hire our team, we do everything within our power to make the process as easy as possible for you, so you can focus on your physical recovery, your family, and getting back to your normal life.