Dog Bite Injuries in the Chicago Area

Over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States, and about one out of every six dog bite cases are severe enough to need medical attention. When a dog bite or dog attack occur, it is the owner of the dog, not the breed of dog or the individual dog, which is responsible for it. If you or someone you know living in the Chicago area has suffered an injury from a dog bite or an attack by a dog or other animal, it is important for you to know your legal rights.

Illinois Dog Bite Laws

Illinois statutes make the owners of dogs and other animals liable for injuries that are caused by their pets. Under the law, “owner” is interpreted broadly, including anyone who keeps or harbors a dog, and also covers anyone who knowingly allows a dog to remain on a property that they occupy—owners can legally include landlords or the actual owners of a property in many cases as well as the actual “owner” of the dog. In Illinois, dog owners are held to a strict liability principle for injuries that are caused by their dogs; a dog owner cannot claim that they did not know that their dog was dangerous as a defense to liability, this knowledge is considered to be irrelevant by the courts and it is assumed that any dog has the potential to be dangerous. In addition to State laws, local counties and cities have their own ordinances that govern a dog owner’s liability for injuries caused by their pets; Cook County’s dog ownership ordinances can be found here.

Provocation As A Defense

In Illinois, dog owners cannot be held legally responsible for a person being injured if the injured person was acting to provoke the dog when the injury occurred. Provocation can be either intentional or unintentional, and can include things like teasing or physically harming the dog; in fact courts have held in some cases that pushing the dog can be a sufficient action to be considered a provocation. A plaintiff that was injured by a dog must show that they did not do anything to provoke the dog that instigated the attack.

“Dangerous” Breeds

Illinois law is among the states that bans or restricts the ownerships of certain breeds of dogs. These kinds of restrictions are usually based around certain breed categories such as pit bulls. In North Chicago, city ordinances restrict the ownership of the pit bull category of dogs, and require that owners carry specific licenses and insurance policies to possess them. Even though animal rights groups argue that classifying certain breeds as dangerous dogs is unfair, pit bulls are disproportionately represented in the statistics of serious injuries and fatalities.

Causes of Action in Dog Bite Cases

A plaintiff’s ability to recover for injuries sustained from a dog bite is highly dependent on where the bite or attack occurred, and statutes relating to dog bites vary in different states, counties, and municipalities. In the majority of dog bite situations, suit will be brought against the dog owner, but in some cases third parties can be involved as well. In addition to physical injuries, a plaintiff in a dog bite case may be able to receive restitution for emotional distress as well: mental anxiety and fear can be compensable if the injured person suffered a physical injury and meets various other legal factors. The attorneys at Levin & Perconti can assist you in determining your rights under these various laws, as well as help with insurance claims and requests for compensation.

Contact A Chicago Area Dog Bite Attorney

If you or a loved one has been or attacked or injured by an animal or dog, contact us online or call us at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 to set up a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.

Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog - Animal and Dog Bites