Many people consider dogs to be faithful companions and beloved pets. However, the reality is that dog bites can and do occur. Any dog can bite, regardless of size, age, or breed. Even dogs with no history of aggressive behavior have the potential to attack. Around 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year.
A dog bite can cause painful injuries and even long-term health complications. When you are injured in a dog attack, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. Filing a dog bite claim allows you to recover your medical costs, lost income, and other losses related to the incident. The North Chicago dog bite lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg are ready to help you recover compensation in your dog bite personal injury case.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
While some dog bite wounds may heal with basic treatment, others can result in long-term injuries or even permanent harm. Nearly one in five dog bite victims require medical attention, and children are among the most injured. Depending on the nature of their injuries, victims may suffer mobility issues, nerve damage, scarring, or disfigurement.
What makes dog bites particularly dangerous is the risk of infections due to the bacteria that dogs carry in their mouths. In the aftermath of a dog bite, it is essential to watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, headaches, or fever. See a doctor right away if you experience these or other symptoms.
While dog bites can cause a wide range of injuries, some common types include:
- Puncture wounds and lacerations: A dog’s teeth can break the skin and cause deep wounds that result in heavy bleeding. The wounds may require stitches or surgery to repair damage to underlying tissue, nerves, and muscles.
- Crush injuries: The powerful jaws of a dog, particularly a large breed, can cause a lot of harm. The dog bite victim may suffer broken bones, internal bleeding, or soft tissue damage.
- Facial injuries: Along with significant scarring, the dog bite victim may sustain permanent damage to their eyes, nose, mouth, or ears. Children are particularly vulnerable to this type of injury.
- Avulsion: Avulsion occurs when the tissue separates from the body, such as when a dog partially or fully rips a person’s ear off. Reconstructive surgery may be required to treat the injured skin and muscle.
- Infections: Bacteria from dog bites can cause infections such as rabies, tetanus, staph, MRSA, and Pasteurella. Signs of infection include redness, pain, swelling, fever, and warm skin.
- Emotional trauma: Emotional distress is a common and worrisome outcome of dog attacks. Victims may develop anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering a terrifying dog bite.
Damages in a Dog Bite Case
From stitches and antibiotics to reconstructive surgery and follow-up care, the medical costs for dog bite injuries can quickly add up. Filing a personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation for your dog bite injuries, including past and future medical expenses.
Illinois does not have damage caps for personal injury cases. Additionally, you are entitled to obtain compensation for your dog bite injuries regardless of what type of dog attacked you. The dog does not have to be from a dangerous breed such as a Rottweiler or pit bull.
Filing a North Chicago dog bite claim allows you to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Lost wages resulting from missed work during recovery
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Along with painful physical injuries, dog bites can also cause emotional and mental distress. Illinois courts give North Chicago dog bite victims the right to recover damages for emotional distress resulting from a dog attack. While calculating the exact amount of compensation is not possible, an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you determine the extent of damages you may recover in your dog bite claim.
North Chicago Pet Owners Are Responsible for Dog Bites
In 2021, Illinois had 844 dog bite claims, the sixth-highest number nationwide. Unlike other states, Illinois does not have a “one bite” rule. This means a dog owner holds complete legal responsibility any time their dog injures someone, even the first time an attack occurs.
Courts assume that any dog has the potential to be dangerous. The dog’s past behavior does not matter.
Under Illinois law, a dog owner is someone who has the right of property to a dog. This includes a person who has a dog under their care or allows one to be on their personal premise, such as a landlord.
Dog bites can affect anyone, from children to adults. Postal workers are among the most vulnerable members of the population when it comes to the risk of dog bites. They are required to enter strangers’ properties as part of their job. According to the USPS, Illinois had the seventh-highest number of dog bites among mail carriers nationwide in 2021.
A dog owner is liable for their dog as long as the dog bite victim did not intentionally provoke the dog or unlawfully trespass on private premises. For example, mail carriers have a legal right to be on another person’s property to deliver mail. The dog owner is responsible for damages including medical bills, lost income, and other related costs when a dog bite occurs on their property.
Dangerous Dog Breeds
Animal rights groups have claimed that designating certain dog breeds as dangerous is unfair and criticized breed-specific bans. Nonetheless, pit bulls statistically have been involved in many dog bite cases over the years. During a 15-year period ending in 2019, pit bulls and rottweilers were responsible for around 76 percent of dog bite-related fatalities.
Some Illinois city ordinances place restrictions on the ownership of certain dog breeds. North Chicago limits the ownership of pit bulls and has enforced rules that require pit bull owners to hold specific licenses and insurance coverage. However, under Illinois law, a dog’s breed does not matter when pursuing compensation for dog bite injuries.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you were attacked by a dog in North Chicago, there are several things you can do to protect your right to recover compensation and ensure your safety. If you are severely injured, ask bystanders to help with the steps below.
- Get medical treatment. Make sure to clean your wounds properly to prevent infections and see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Collect information. Obtain the dog owner’s contact details as well as information about the dog’s veterinary records. Document your injury to establish its severity.
- Report the dog bite. Inform local authorities about the dog attack to ensure the incident is recorded and the dog owner is identified.
- Contact a dog bite lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and maximizing the damages you receive.
The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to support your dog bite claim. When the other party disputes the severity of your injuries, you can fight back with solid evidence that shows the nature and extent of the harm you suffered.
A skilled North Chicago dog bite attorney can help you build a strong case. Dog bite cases can be complex. Having an experienced lawyer representing your interests can ensure you overcome any roadblocks that emerge, whether it is an uncooperative dog owner or lowball settlement offers.
Look for the Warning Signs
Many dog bites are preventable. You can minimize the risk of dog attacks by being aware of common warning signs that indicate when dogs are stressed.
- Avert your gaze. Dogs may view direct eye contact as a threat.
- Behaviors such as licking lips, yawning, shaking, or placing the tail between the legs may be signs that a dog is stressed.
- Try to remain calm and refrain from sudden movements. Dogs may consider running or yelling as cues to attack.
- Avoid agitating dogs. Do not bother dogs that are eating, sleeping, or playing with toys.
Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Claim
Like other personal injury cases, dog bite victims in Illinois typically have two years from the date of a dog attack to file a claim. There are certain exceptions for minors. If you miss this deadline, known as the statute of limitations, you are no longer eligible to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have been injured in a dog attack, contact a North Chicago dog bite lawyer right away to ensure you do not lose your right to take legal action. A point to note is that intentionally provoking a dog or trespassing on a dog owner’s property can bar you from recovering damages.
No Fee Unless Your Dog Bite Case is Successful
Understanding the specific laws that apply to dog bite cases can be difficult. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we are here to help you pursue just compensation for your dog bite claim. Our North Chicago dog bite lawyers will answer all your questions and concerns about the legal options available to you. We will help you hold the liable dog owner accountable for your injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg takes all personal injury cases on a contingency basis. This means you do not have to pay a fee unless we are successful in recovering damages for you.