If you have been injured in a dog bite incident or an animal attack, it is vital to be aware of your legal rights to pursue compensation for your injuries. Owners must maintain control over their pets, and when they fail to do so, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. A Bloomington dog bite lawyer can review your case and explore all available legal options to achieve financial recovery.
What Damages Can be Recovered If a Dog Bit my Child?
Unfortunately, many dog bite cases involve injuries to young children. These attacks often require stitches, a painful series of rabies shots, careful wound care, and in severe cases, one or more plastic surgeries. In addition to physical injuries, emotional trauma is common. While no amount of money can make it right, children can recover past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, past and future emotional distress, damages for disfigurement, and any disability caused by the attack. Due to the seriousness of dog attacks involving children, we recommend parents take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer to discuss what damages their child can recover and what the appropriate value of their child’s case might be.
What Statute of Limitations Applies to Dog Bite Cases in Illinois?
The statute of limitations for a dog bite case in Illinois is typically two-years from the date of the bite or attack. (735 ILCS 5/13-202). However, this deadline does not apply in every case. Unfortunately, dog bites injuries frequently involve children and these cases may have a longer statute of limitations. We have also seen some rare cases where an animal was owned by a local government entity where a one-year deadline would apply.
If the lawsuit is not filed by the two-year deadline, the case may be dismissed. An attorney in Bloomington who is well-versed in the laws governing dog attack cases could ensure that the plaintiff’s lawsuit gets filed before the statute of limitations runs out.
What Law Applies to Illinois Dog Bite Cases?
The Illinois Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5) applies to dog bite cases in Illinois. Under the Act, the victim of a dog bite attack can recover from a person who owned or kept the dog. The injured person must prove: (1) the dog attacked or attempted to attack them, (2) the attack caused their injuries, (3) they did not provoke the dog, and (4) they were peaceably conducting themselves in a place they had a right to be.
It should be noted that the state’s dog bite laws apply to other kinds of animal attacks as well, such as scratching or clawing.
The Legal Responsibilities of Bloomington Pet Owners
Under 510 ILCS 5/2.05a, to be considered a dangerous dog, a canine must be anywhere other than upon the property of the owner and unleashed, unmuzzled, or unattended. It is the responsibility of a pet owner to ensure their animal remains secured on their property.
If an owner takes their animal for a walk on someone else’s private property or public property, the dog should remain on a leash.
If the animal escapes from an owner’s property, the owner may be liable for any damage caused by the dog. Per 510 ILCS 5/2.18b, a reckless dog owner is someone who permits their pet to leave the property and kill another dog.
The Doctrine of Strict Liability
Illinois is a strict liability state with regards to dog bites and other animal-inflicted injuries. This means that an animal owner cannot argue that they had no warning of the animal’s aggressive behavior. Therefore, if an animal injures an individual without being provoked, the owner may be liable, even if they had no prior knowledge that their dog was aggressive.
The state’s dog bite statute does not cover cases in which a dog is provoked. As such, if an owner can prove that the injury was because their pet was provoked, they may not be liable for the injury. If someone is illegally on private property and is attacked by a canine, the owner would not be liable for any resulting injuries. A diligent Bloomington dog bite lawyer could determine if a pet owner could be liable for damages.
What are the Most Common Mistakes in Dog Bite Cases?
Working with an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you avoid many common mistakes. Four of the most common mistakes are: (1) waiting too long to pursue a claim; (2) Failing to report the case to animal control and determine if the dog has a prior bite history; (3) failing to get the medical treatment you need; (4) trusting the at-fault party to take care of your medical bills instead of using your own health insurance to make sure your bills get paid; and (5) accepting an early or low settlement, without knowing the value of your case. We recommend injured people speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer to avoid common mistakes and to maximize the value of your claim.
How Much is a Dog Bite Case Worth?
Dog bite cases can be quite valuable, but the value of each case depends on the specific circumstances and damages suffered by the injured person. Many factors impact the value of a case, including: the severity of the wounds or injuries, the amount of the medical bills, the extent of scarring or disfigurement caused by the attack, the emotional trauma suffered by the injured person, the circumstances of the attack, and the bite history of the dog. As a practical matter, the amount of insurance coverage available to pay the claim is often an important factor in determining how much money an injured person can recover.
Contact a Bloomington Dog Bite Attorney Today
If a dog bite has injured you, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and more. A Bloomington dog bite lawyer could help you with every step of the litigation process. Call now to schedule a consultation.