You never expected to get attacked by a dog. Yet, it happened. Whether you were bit by a neighbor’s pet or a dog belonging to a business, it doesn’t change the fact that you are now faced with serious injuries and serious medical expenses. At the Waukegan dog bite law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, our personal injury attorneys represent dog bite victims, helping them obtain much-needed compensation after an animal attack. We have extensive experience successfully handling all aspects of a dog bite claim, from filing the case to negotiating with the insurance company to litigating in front of the jury.
Which Breeds Are Most Likely to Attack?
While any dog is capable of attacking a human, certain breeds are known for being more protective, and others more aggressive.
• Alaskan Malamutes
• American Staffordshire Terriers
• Chow Chows
• Doberman Pinschers
• German Shepherds
• Great Danes
• Perro de Presa Canarios
• Pit Bulls
• Siberian Huskies
Of course, a dog’s tendency to attack is not all that makes them dangerous. Certain breeds use especially dangerous techniques when attacking. For example, pit bulls are known for surprise attacks and are bred to lock their jaws once they bite, often resulting in a life-threatening situation. Some dogs, such as Dogo Argentines, Presa Canarios, and Cane Corsos, are also trained to fight by their owners. Once one of these animals engages in fight-mode, their instincts take over, which often means they are prepared to fight to the death.
However, it is important to remember that just because the dog that bit you didn’t belong to a breed that is known to be dangerous, that does not change the fact that the animal’s owner may be liable to you for your injuries. Waukegan dog bite lawyer can help you understand your rights and how to pursue them effectively.
Why Do Dogs Attack?
On average more than 1,000 people are attacked by dogs every day, meaning over 5 million people are attacked every year. While not every dog attack results in serious injury, more than 850,000 people seek medical care for dog bites each year, and more than 1,000 people visit the emergency room with dog-bite-related injuries every day.
One of the most common misconceptions about dog bites is that dogs need a reason to attack. While most dogs typically attack for one reason or another, the reality is that sometimes dogs bite a person for no apparent reason.
That said, when the following situations arise, a dog is more likely to attack:
• Illness – Certain canine illnesses can make a dog more prone to attack. For example, rabies attacks a dog’s central nervous system, impacting how their brains work. This can lead a dog who may not otherwise be prone to biting to attack a human.
• Protection – When a dog senses that a human is invading their space or getting too close to their owner, they may become aggressive. Of course, a dog’s sense of what is a valid threat is not always accurate, which is why dogs sometimes bite neighbors, houseguests or friends.
• Fear – If a dog is suddenly startled, such as if you approach them from behind, they may bite out of instinct. Often, when a frightened dog bites, the victim’s reaction of pulling away or yelling only increased the perceived threat.
• Aggressive Playing – Almost all dogs love to play; however, some are more gentle than others. What starts off as playing in a dog’s mind can quickly escalate, especially if a person pushes the dog away, raises their voice, or makes sudden movements.
While dog lovers would like to think that their animal would never attack someone else, let alone for no reason, history has proven that not to be the case. Dogs can be vicious animals, and if you find yourself on the other side of a dog’s aggression, you can suffer life-changing injuries.
Dog Bite Injuries
Dogs’ teeth are sharp, and their jaws powerful. Even a seemingly small or innocent-seeming dog can cause severe injuries in a very short amount of time. Some of the most common physical injuries caused by dog bites include:
• Deep cuts;
• Bruises and welts;
• Torn ligaments;
• Broken bones;
• Nerve damage; and
• Scarring and other disfigurement.
However, some of the most dangerous Waukegan dog bite injuries tend to show up afterward. According to one study, one in five dog bites gets infected. The two most common types of infections caused by dog bites are rabies and Capnocytophaga. Rabies is an extremely serious virus that is spread through the saliva of infected animals. Once the symptoms of rabies show up, it is often fatal. Capnocytophaga is another disease spread through the saliva of cats and dogs. Most people with healthy immune systems will not contract Capnocytophaga if bitten; however, if you have a weakened immune system or are taking immunosuppressant drugs, you may be at a greater risk.
Most often, the signs of infection show up within five days, and include:
• Blistering around the site of the wound;
• Draining pus;
• Joint pain;
• Muscle pain;
• Redness and swelling around the bite;
• Stomach pain; and
Infections must be treated quickly and aggressively. While there is no treatment for rabies, if you get to the doctor before symptoms show up, there is a much better prognosis. If you’ve been bitten by a dog and are experiencing any of these symptoms, immediately go to the emergency room.
Can a Dog’s Owner Be Held Liable After an Attack?
Yes. The Illinois Animal Control Act imposes strict liability on dog owners. This means that the owner of a dog is liable for any injury caused by their animal, regardless of whether they were negligent. Thus, there is also no requirement that the animal owner knew that their dog was dangerous or had attacked a person in the past.
Under the state’s dog bite statute, dog owners are liable whether their animal attacks another person on public or private land provided the accident victim was legally allowed to be there. Notably, the Illinois dog bite statute uses the term “attack” rather than “bite.” This means that non-bite-related injuries are covered under the strict liability statute. For example, if you tripped and fell while fleeing from an aggressive dog or if a dog lunged at you and knocked you over.
There are, however, a few exceptions where an animal attack may not result in a dog owner being held liable. One example of this is provocation. If someone provokes a dog that then attacks them, the strict liability statute will not apply. Importantly, if the defense claims you provoked the dog, the burden will rest with you to prove that is not the case.
The other main defense in a dog bite case involves the attack of someone who was not legally allowed to be at the location where they were bit. Illinois courts have held that those who use a path or walkway have implicit permission to be on the property. However, if you were trespassing or in a portion of the property that was closed to the public, you may have a harder time proving a Waukegan dog bite case.
When it comes to dog bites on a rented property, in most situations, the tenant is liable but not the landlord. First, in this scenario, the landlord is not the owner of the dog, so strict liability would not apply. And second, courts have held that an absentee landlord does not owe a duty of care to tenants’ guests.
Damages in a Waukegan Dog Bite Case
Every year, victims of dog bites sustain a total of over 1$ billion in monetary losses. And the average cost of treatment for dog bite injuries is over $18,000, which is more than two times the average cost of a hospital stay.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation through a Waukegan dog bite lawsuit. Getting bitten or attacked by a dog not only causes physical injuries but emotional ones as well. Thus, under state law, dog bite victims can recover for the economic and non-economic damages they suffered as a result of the attack.
Economic damages are intended to compensate an accident victim for those costs that are easily identifiable. For example, medical expenses, lost wages and decreased earning capacity are all common types of economic damages.
Non-economic damages are much more subjective, as they compensate you for the psychological and emotional impact the attack had on your life. The most common types of non-economic damages in a Waukegan dog bite case include amounts for:
• Past and future pain and suffering;
• Disfigurement; and
• Loss of a normal life.
Of course, these are very broad categories, and an experience Waukegan personal injury attorney can help you identify the full scope of your damages.
How Long Do You Have to Bring a Waukegan Dog Bite Lawsuit?
After suffering a dog bite, it is important that you do not delay in reaching out to an attorney to discuss your case. Under Illinois law, you have just two years to bring a dog bite case against the dog’s owner. If you file a claim outside this two-year statute of limitations, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case, leaving you with no way to recover for your injuries. However, your case does not need to be resolved by the end of the two years; you only need to file the case by that time to protect your right to recover.
Have You Been Attacked by a Dog in Waukegan?
If you were recently bitten or attacked by another’s dog, contact the dedicated Waukegan dog bite attorneys at the law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. Our dedicated team of personal injury attorneys has aggressively pursued compensation on behalf of dog bite victims throughout the greater Chicago area for decades. We have earned a reputation of being knowledgeable, compassionate advocates who look out for our clients’ interests at every stage of the process. Whether we are gathering the necessary evidence to prove your claim, negotiating with an insurance company or litigating your case in front of a judge or jury, we have what it takes to succeed. As part of the Briskman Guarantee, we provide all accident victims with a free consultation to answer their questions and explain the process. And if you allow us to work with you, we will never bill you for our services unless we can successfully recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Waukegan personal injury lawyers, give us a call at 877-595-4878. You can also reach us through our online contact form.