Some dogs make great family pets and love to be around children. However, that is not the case for all dogs and all breeds. Even animals that live among children for years without an incident can suddenly snap, especially around children who are generally less predictable than adults. Given their smaller size, children often experience very serious and often fatal injuries after a dog bite. Children under two make up a quarter of all fatal dog bite victims, and a third of all fatal dog bite victims are under nine years old. And over half of all dog bite injury victims are children. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, our compassionate personal injury attorneys represent families with children who were attacked by a dog. We work closely with your family to hold the animal’s owner liable for the full extent of your child’s injuries.
Children Are at a Higher Risk for Dog Bites
A dog bite is traumatizing regardless of your age; however, children face the highest risk of suffering a serious injury after being attacked by a dog. Children are smaller and do not yet understand the dangers that these seemingly friendly animals present. A child may pull on the dog’s tail or think they are playing with it when the dog does not see it the same way. Children are also smaller than most dogs, making them an easy target for aggressive animals.
Children Suffer Much More Serious Injuries After an Animal Attack
While a dog bite can cause injuries to someone of any age, children suffer much more severe injuries on average. While only 12 percent of adults attacked by a dog need to visit the emergency room, more than 26 percent of children require emergency medical care. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dog bites pose a greater threat to children than measles, mumps and whooping cough combined. Additionally, more children are hospitalized for dog bites than for playground accidents and bike accidents.
Recovering Financial Compensation After a Dog Bites Your Child
If your child was bitten by a dog, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. If your child was bitten by another’s animal, you can bring a claim against the animal’s owner. Typically, this will be through an insurance claim with the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy.
However, the reality is that more than 75 percent of child dog bites involve animals owned by the family or their loved ones. If your child was attacked by a family member’s dog, you can file a claim with their homeowner’s policy. While you may have hesitation to “sue” a loved one, remember that the insurance company—not the animal’s owner—is the party responsible for paying any damages award. This is the reason why your loved one purchased a homeowners’ insurance policy.
Issues of Provocation
Under Illinois dog bite laws, an animal’s owner is strictly liable for any injuries caused by their dog. This includes bites but also other injuries stemming from an attack, such as scratches.
Illinois imposes a strict liability theory of liability. Strict liability is a legal term that attaches liability to a party regardless of their negligence. In the context of a dog bite law, it means that a dog’s owner is liable for any injuries caused by their dog.
Not all Illinois dog bite cases fall under the strict liability theory, however. To benefit from the strict liability statute, a dog bite victim must:
1. Not have provoked the animal;
2. Be “peaceably conducting” themselves; and
3. Be in a place they are lawfully allowed to be.
One of the most common defenses in child dog bite cases is that the child provoked the dog. Courts engage in a very fact-specific analysis when determining whether a child’s actions “provoked” a dog. Typically, courts will consider the animal’s reaction in response to the alleged provocation. For example, in one case, the court found that a child screaming at a dog did not constitute justification for the animal’s “savage” attack. This defense is one parents should anticipate when bringing a dog bite claim.
Consult With an Experienced Illinois Dog Bite Lawyer
If your child was attacked by a dog, contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to schedule a free consultation. For over 30 years, our dedicated dog bite lawyers have been helping families seek meaningful compensation that allows them to move on more easily with their lives after an animal attack. We have specific experience handling dog bite cases involving young children and know what it takes to prepare these challenging claims effectively. As a part of the Briskman Guarantee, we never charge you for our representation unless we are able to help you recover compensation for your injuries. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of our Illinois dog bite lawyers, call us at 877-595-4878. You can also reach us through our online contact form.