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Rockford personal injury attorneysWhile many consider dogs to be “man’s best friend,” not all dogs are friendly. If you have been bitten by someone’s dog, you may have had to pay extensive emergency room bills and missed time from work. If the injury you sustained was the fault of someone else, it is only fair that he or she should pay for your damages. However, a successful dog bite personal injury claim can be hard to accomplish without qualified legal counsel. If you have suffered a dog bite injury in Illinois, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Dog Owners Are Only Responsible in Certain Circumstances

According to Illinois law, a dog owner is legally responsible for your damages caused by a dog bite if several criteria are met. First, you must have been bitten while in a public place or while lawfully in a private place.  You would likely be able to sue a dog owner if his or her dog attacked you on a public sidewalk, for example. However, if you were walking through someone else’s back yard without their permission, this may be technically considered trespassing. In this type of situation, it can be nearly impossible to receive compensation for damages.

The other important element of a dog bite case is that you did not provoke the dog or instigate the animal into biting you. In most cases, petting a dog is not provocative, as you might expect, but throwing things or hitting the animal would be considered provocation.  

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Rockford personal injury attorneysThe weather has been warming up in Northern Illinois, and that means that people are out picnicking, swimming, and walking their dogs. Although many consider dogs to be “man’s best friend,” the reality is that dogs are still animals, and their behavior is not always predictable. Sometimes, a dog who has never shown signs of belligerence suddenly becomes aggressive. If you have been bitten by a dog in Illinois, it is important to know that you might be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries.

Illinois Dog Bite Laws

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximate about 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year. Illinois has traditionally been a state in which a higher-than-average number of dog bite lawsuits are filed. This is partially due to how the law is written. In some states, a dog owner is not responsible for damages caused by a dog bite if the dog had never bitten anyone before. For example, if someone owned a dog who was usually friendly and non-aggressive, but then one day the dog suddenly bit someone, the dog owner may not be held liable because he or she did not know the dog was capable of violence. However, Illinois does not have this law in place. Instead, a dog owner can be held liable for damages caused by his or her dog biting someone even if the dog has never shown signs of aggressiveness in the past.

The Illinois Animal Control Act dictates when a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her dog. According to the act, “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.”

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