Failing to keep your pet under control is not only against the law, but it can lead to serious injury to another person. In the state of Illinois, being injured by a dog or other animal may entitle you to file a personal injury claim to be compensated for any financial losses, pain and suffering, and scarring you incur as a result of an animal attack. A Pekin personal injury lawyer could evaluate your situation and help you understand your legal rights.
The victim of a dog bite or attack is, unfortunately, frequently a young child. An injury from a canine bite can result in the need for treatment that includes stitches, medication, counseling, treatment for rabies or even plastic surgery. The physical injury may not be the only lasting effect; the emotional trauma can be even harder to overcome. When you have a situation that can involve future medical costs, long term emotional distress, or compensation for pain and suffering, a local personal injury attorney with dog bite experience could walk you through the process to a satisfactory resolution.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
In Illinois, a statute called the Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/1) provides a right to recovery for those injured by a dog bite or animal attack. An experienced canine bite lawyer could help you understand the legal requirements that you must meet to prove your claim. Generally, the Act has 4 elements:
1) Defendant must own, keep, or control the animal that attacked;
2) The plaintiff must have been peaceably conducting themselves;
3) The plaintiff must be in a place they have a legal right to be (they can’t be trespassing); and
4) The plaintiff must prove that they did not provoke the attack.
The Illinois Animal Control Act is a powerful tool for injury victims to obtain justice. Typically dog bite claims are paid by the homeowners liability policy for the dog owner. Often these cases can be resolved through settlement, without filing a lawsuit, because the Act is very favorable to victims.
Does a Statute of Limitations Apply to Dog Bite Cases in Illinois?
Typically a personal injury lawsuit needs to be filed within two years of an incident, but the statute of limitations may be different if the victim of the dog bite is a child, or in rare cases where the animal is owned by a government entity. In any case, it is critical to file the claim before the statute of limitations expires or the case may be dismissed. A Pekin attorney who knows the law as it applies to personal injury and dog bite cases could advise you of all the necessary deadlines for filing.
Common Mistakes in Dog Bite Cases
People frequently make several very common mistakes when dealing with a dog bite or attack. Some of these common mistakes are:
Delaying filing a claim and missing filing deadlines
Neglecting to report the bite to animal control; usually because the pet owner is a friend, neighbor or family member
Treating the injury yourself instead of seeking medical care
Taking the owner’s word and trusting them to pay your medical expenses
Agreeing to a cash settlement with an insurance company before talking to an experienced attorney.
Talking with a knowledgeable dog bite attorney in Pekin could help you avoid making these and other mistakes that may cost you later in your claim.
How Much is a Dog Bite Case Worth?
The factors that influence what the victim of a dog bite can recover are based on a variety of factors: the severity of the injuries, the cost of medical care, the likelihood of long-term disfigurement or scarring, the emotional trauma resulting from the attack. The circumstances under which the attack took place and any previous history the owner had with the dog biting or attacking others can also influence the outcome of a case.
The amount of any liability insurance the owner of the animal carries may be another important consideration in determining the amount of financial recovery for the victim.
Contact a Pekin Dog Bite Attorney Today
If you or a loved one are dealing with the after effects of an injury caused by someone else’s pet, contact a Pekin dog bite lawyer who could guide you through the process of filing a claim and to discuss whether you are owed compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call now to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.