If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, you may be wondering about your right to legal recourse. Is the owner of that dog liable for your injuries?
In Illinois, dog bite victims have legal protections thanks to the strict liability law. It covers dog bites that pierce or tear the skin, scratches, and other injuries.
It is important to note that this law also protects you if the dog causes injuries by knocking you over, even if it does not use its teeth.
What to Know About Strict Liability and Dog Bites
Unlike some states that allow for a one-bite rule, Illinois upholds strict liability that holds the dog owner liable for any injuries their dog causes.
Even if the owner didn’t realize their pet could be capable of such behavior, they still must compensate you for your injuries.
There are only a few exceptions to the rule, such as if a dog bites a trespasser on the owner’s property or the dog was intentionally provoked before it bit. These situations would mean the owner likely won’t be held liable.
If you decide to move forward with a dog bite case, you will have two years from the date of the bite to file your lawsuit.
For those who were minors at the time of the attack, the two-year clock on the statute doesn’t start until the victim’s 18th birthday.
What Is the Dangerous Dog Law?
Other laws may come into play when suing someone for dog bite injuries. A dog may be declared dangerous if it has killed or seriously harmed another animal or person.
If a dog is declared dangerous, the owner needs to follow certain steps to keep everyone safe.
Some of these steps include registering their pet with the local animal control agency and keeping it contained in a secure place.
Warnings on the property should also be posted. Failing to follow these requirements generally results in fines, and it may even mean the dog is confiscated from the owner.
What Are Your Options If You Are Bitten by a Dog?
After suffering a dog bite, the first thing to do is get immediate medical attention. Cleaning out the wound with soap and water can help until you get to the hospital or urgent care center.
You may want to discuss what happened with a dog bite lawyer as well. They can help you explore your legal options and understand the state’s laws about dog bites. You’ll have someone who can help calculate your damages to seek what is fair in compensation.
Generally, this will include your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish, though depending on the factors of your case, you may have had other losses.
For example, you may need to undergo reconstructive surgeries if the attack was particularly severe.
Since the initial settlement offer after a dog bite usually won’t factor these things in, it’s important that you have an attorney who will stand up for your rights.
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The bottom line
The question of whether an owner of a dog is liable if it bites someone is multifaceted and largely depends on specific circumstances and local laws.
However, it is generally acknowledged that dog owners carry a significant level of responsibility for their pets’ actions.
To mitigate risks, owners are advised to train their dogs properly, ensure they are securely contained, and take reasonable precautions to prevent bites.
Understanding and adhering to local regulations and obtaining appropriate insurance can further protect owners from severe legal and financial consequences in the event of a dog bite.
Ultimately, responsible ownership is key in preventing such incidents and ensuring safety for both the public and the dogs themselves.