Every year more than 4.5 million people are bit by dogs in the United States with more than 800,000 of those requiring medical attention. Unfortunately, the most likely victim of an animal attack is a young child or elderly adult. Many of the attacks or bites are serious enough to require medical attention, and while it is rare, it is a sad fact that animal attacks can even result in permanent scarring, serious injuries, or even death. And while we can read the facts and figures associated with dog bites, those figures fail to really tell the story of the trauma that can result from an animal attack.
For this reason, it is important to speak with a compassionate attorney after being bitten by an aggressive dog. A Monticello dog bite lawyer could provide essential legal guidance as you seek compensation from the negligent pet owner.
What Laws Apply to Illinois Canine Bite Cases?
It’s true that dogs can be wonderful companions, but it’s also true that dogs do bite. Any dog has the potential to attack a human, and that attack can range from a small nip or scratch, to serious, life-altering injuries. When you or a loved one are injured in a dog bite situation, there are two common legal theories that may apply to recover damages. First, you may have a claim for negligence. To establish a claim for negligence, you need to show that the dog owner owed you a duty (generally dog owners have a duty of reasonable care to protect the public from their dog), that the dog’s owner breached their duty or acted carelessly, that you were injured or have damages, and that the dog’s owner’s breach of their duty caused your damages.
The second theory, and generally the stronger theory under Illinois law, is the Illinois Animal Control Act. This law generally provides that so long as the injury victim was peaceably conducting themselves in a place they had a right to be, and did not provoke the dog, whoever owns or controls the dog would be liable for the injured party’s damages. Our local attorneys could help you determine which theory may apply to your dog bite case.
Holding a Negligent Pet Owner Liable
As a practical matter, most dog bite claims are paid by homeowners insurance policies or renters insurance policies of the dog’s owner. It is also possible that the dog’s owner may have a liability umbrella policy that may pay your claim. In some circumstances where there is no insurance coverage, or there is inadequate insurance coverage, an injured party may seek to recover damages from the assets of the dog’s owner. However, most dog bite cases are simply resolved as insurance claims against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance, which will typically cover dog bite claims.
What Should You Do After Being Bitten by a Dog?
If you or a loved one has been injured by someone’s pet, you may find yourself wondering “what do I do now?” Here are some steps you will want to take to ensure a complete medical recovery as well as preserve your legal rights:
- Seek medical care immediately. Even seemingly insignificant animal bites or scratches can result in infections or scarring. Your health comes first. In most cases, you should use your own personal health insurance to pay your medical bills, to make sure your bills get paid quickly.
- Obtain contact information for the dog’s owner and any witnesses to the attack
- Report the attack to the police or appropriate animal control agency
- Photograph your injuries, preserve evidence like damaged clothing or property
- Talk to an experienced injury lawyer for help dealing with the at-fault party’s homeowners’ insurance company.
- Avoid the temptation to accept an early low-ball settlement from the insurance company.
Talking to an experienced dog bite attorney in Monticello first can guarantee the settlement you receive will cover all expenses and losses you may experience, both now and in the future.
Recoverable Damages in Monticello Dog Bite Claims
While your damages would depend on the facts and circumstances of your specific case, some of the most common types of damages in dog bite cases include:
- All costs of medical treatment, past and future, including the potential need for future surgeries,
- Reimbursement of expenses related to the attack,
- Lost wages or earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and the emotional trauma related to the attack,
- Compensation for permanent scarring or disfigurement, and
- Compensation for any disability caused by the attack.
Our team can help you calculate your total financial and personal losses stemming from the canine attack.
Contact a Monticello Dog Bite Attorney Today
If you, your child or another member of your family have been injured by an aggressive canine, a Monticello dog bite lawyer can help you understand your rights and help you through the process of filing a claim for compensation against the owner of the animal. Initial consultations are free, and if you hire our team we are only paid if we are successful in recovering money for you. Call today for a no-obligation free consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have, advise you about the value of your case and options to proceed, and strategies to help maximize your compensation.