According to the Centers for Disease Control, over four million dog bites occur in the United States each year. While some bites are very minor, others are extremely serious in nature and can cause significant and lasting injuries. When a dog bite injury occurs, though, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you hold the owner of the dog liable for the costs of those injuries in some cases. There are several sources of law that may apply to a dog bite claim, as well as strict time limits and rules for filing dog bite claims. As such, it may be best to contact an experienced Will County dog bite lawyer as quickly as possible following a bite or attack. Call and schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney today.
The Illinois Animal Control Act, listed in 510 ILCS 5/16, establishes the rights of individuals to seek damages from the owner of a dog or other animal that has attacked and harmed them. There are certain requirements for dog bite victims to recover damages under this section, which are as follows:
Under 510 ILCS 5/2.16, any individuals who have a right of property in an animal, who keep or harbor an animal, who have one in their care, who act as its custodian, or who intentionally allow it to remain on any premises that they occupy are considered the owners of that animal. For instance, any person who purchases, feeds, provides a living space for, or benefits in terms of property guarding from a dog may be legally considered that dog’s owner in a civil matter.
Both the Illinois Animal Control Act and common law govern personal injury claims based on dog bites. Common law consists of court cases in which judges create standard interpretations of the law for courts to follow. One example of the common law that directly impacts dog bite cases is the “One Free Bite Rule.”
Under this common law rule, injury victims must prove that an owner knew about their dog’s violent tendencies before the attack at issue occurred. It may be insufficient to show that the owners should have known the dog was dangerous either due to its breed or another reason. In the same vein, if the dog has never attacked or bitten another person before, it may be difficult to fulfill this requirement.
In many towns and cities, there are municipal ordinances that also may be relevant to dog bite claims. If a dog attack or bite occurs within city limits, injury victims should consult a Will County dog bite attorney to determine whether there are any municipal ordinances applicable to their potential claims.
If a dog bite injury victim can establish all the aforementioned elements, they may have a valid claim for damages against the dog’s owner under Illinois law. Some of the available damages may include:
Some dog bite injuries can be severe and require many months of treatment and recovery. Dog bites also can necessitate multiple surgical procedures to reconstruct the area surrounding the bite. Given the many medical expenses that may result from a dog bite, contacting a dog bite lawyer in Will County as soon as possible after a bite may be advantageous to injury victims.
The medical expenses, permanent impairments, and scarring that can result from a dog bite injury can be substantial. While you are struggling to recover from your injuries, an experienced Will County dog bite lawyer may be able to assist you with legal matters.
An experienced personal injury attorney could help you determine whether you have any legal grounds to hold a dog owner responsible for the injuries that you have suffered. While a damages award cannot undo the pain that you have experienced, it may help you deal with the significant medical bills and lost wages that result from your injuries. Call today to learn more or to schedule an initial consultation.