When you are attacked by a dog, you can suffer severe injuries and mental anguish. In the State of Illinois, there are several ways you can recover monetary damages to compensate for your injuries. You should consult with an Illinois personal injury attorney who can help you understand your case.
Illinois state law says that dog owners can be held strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their pets. The Illinois Animal Control Act says that:
If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
Under our state’s Animal Control Act, the dog owner must pay for damages if you are injured. An owner can be a person who has a property right in the animal or a person who keeps or cares for the animal. A person may be considered an owner simply by allowing the dog to remain on his or her property. When you are attacked by a dog belonging to a friend or family member, you might feel uncomfortable about suing for damages. However, it is important to know that these damages are often paid by a homeowner’s insurance policy.
A dog owner may assert two main defenses when his or her dog has injured someone. The dog owner may not be liable for damages if the injury victim was trespassing at the time of the attack, or if the injury victim provoked the dog into attacking. Still, there are some instances where trespass and provocation are not easy to determine. A child might be attacked when he or she unknowingly trespasses onto someone’s property. Provocation can also be difficult to discern if the injury victim was arguing with the dog’s owner, or the injury victim unintentionally provokes the dog. For example, a dog might attack because someone dropped a large object near the dog, or accidentally stepped on a sleeping dogs tail. In these situations, a judge or jury may need to decide whether to hold the dog owner liable
When you are attacked by a dog, you can sue based on the wording of the Animal Control Act above. You can also sue under the legal principles of negligence and negligence per se.
Negligence is when a person owes a duty to protect someone from harm and fails in that duty, thereby causing an injury. In order to win a lawsuit in an ordinary negligence claim, you must prove that the dog owner owed a duty to protect you from his or her dog, and that you were injured because the owner failed to protect you.
Negligence per se is a special type of negligence claim where a person violates a safety ordinance, resulting in an injury. When a dog owner violates a safety ordinance and injures a person whom that ordinance was designed to protect, that dog owner is liable for damages under the principle of negligence per se. In these cases the existence of a safety ordinance proves that the dog owner had a duty to protect you, and a violation of that ordinance proves there was a breach of duty. These safety ordinances can be found in the wording of the Illinois Animal Control Act, or they may be found in local ordinances. For example, the Chicago Animal Care and Control Ordinance is a local safety ordinance requiring owners to keep their dogs on a leash whenever they are not confined.
Whether you seek compensation under the Illinois Animal Control Act or under the legal principles of negligence or negligence per se, you must show that you have been damaged by the attack. These damages can include medical bills, disfigurement, pain and suffering, lost wages, and mental anguish. Your injuries may be the result of actual scratching and biting, or they may be injuries you sustained while running or climbing or otherwise trying to escape from the dog. You may also suffer from emotional distress without coming into direct contact with the dog. This may occur if you were standing close by when the dog mauled another person, or if you were chased and menaced by the dog.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog, you should talk to a personal injury attorney who can explain your rights. Our pets are considered to be beloved family members, but a dog attack is a very serious matter. Talk to a Chicago dog bite attorney at Cavanagh Sorich Law Group by contact us today.