While dog bites can happen anywhere, what surprises many people is that they often occur in familiar places or involve known dogs. No matter where a dog attack occurs, it can potentially cause serious injuries and infections. If you have been hurt due to a dog bite, the experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys at Briskman, Briskman, and Greenberg can help you pursue compensation.
Dog Bites at Home and Your Neighborhood
One of the most common places for dog attacks is the victim’s home or somewhere close to their property. More than half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs familiar to us, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Additionally, as the number of dogs in the house or apartment increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs are five times more likely to be bitten than those who do not live with dogs.
The second most common place for a dog attack is a friend’s or relative’s home. Around 77 percent of biting dogs are owned by the victim’s relative or family friend.
Children are particularly vulnerable to dog bites and are far more likely to suffer severe injuries in an attack. More than 50 percent of all dog bite victims are children.
Dog attacks that affect young children tend to occur during interactions with familiar dogs and everyday activities. For instance, a potentially dangerous scenario involves bringing a child into the home of a friend or relative who owns a dog.
Not only do children face a higher risk of being bitten, but they are also more likely to receive medical treatment for dog bites than adults. The CDC has found that children who are 5 to 9 years old have the highest rate of dog bite injuries.
Other Common Dog Bite Locations
- Parks: Some parks allow dogs to roam off-leash in an open area, reducing the amount of control an owner has over their pet. Even dogs that are usually well-behaved may act in unexpected or aggressive ways around unfamiliar people.
- Businesses: Dog bites can occur at a wide range of stores, offices, a vet’s clinic, or restaurants with outdoor seating.
- Sidewalks: Many dog owners walk their pets on sidewalks. While dogs should be on a leash, you may sometimes encounter unrestrained pets running loose.
What Causes a Dog to Bite a Neighbor, Pedestrian, Owner, or Stranger?
Any dog can bite, whether a stranger’s dog on a sidewalk or your aunt’s pet in her yard. Researchers have not found evidence that certain dog breeds are more likely to bite than others. The likelihood of a dog attack depends on an individual dog’s behavior and history. Even the cuddliest, most well-behaved dogs can attack if provoked.
Since many dog bites statistically occur in homes, owners need to teach their dogs how to behave in social settings. Introducing a dog to as many people as possible at a young age or enrolling a pet in obedience school are just some examples of responsible dog ownership. A National Canine Research Council study found that many owners fail to provide their dogs with positive interactions, potentially limiting their opportunities to develop social skills.
Often, multiple factors are responsible for dog bite-related injuries or fatalities rather than a single cause. The research council identified seven factors within the control of dog owners that occurred in most dog bite-related deaths over ten years.
The absence of a person physically able to intervene during an attack was a factor in 87 percent of dog bite cases. The victim had no familiar relationship with the biting dogs in just over 85 percent of incidents, while the owner failed to neuter or spayed the dog in 84.4 percent of cases. The owner’s abuse or neglect of dogs contributed to around 21 percent of dog bite incidents.
Who is Liable for Dog Bites?
Knowing who could be legally responsible for paying your damages is essential if you were injured by someone else’s dog in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois. Filing a personal injury claim allows you to recover compensation for medical bills, emotional distress, and other costs that arise from the dog bite, as long as you did not provoke the attack.
Liable parties may consist of the dog’s owner or the landlord who knowingly allowed a dangerous dog to remain on their property when you were attacked. A dog owner can be held liable even if the dog bite occurred on a sidewalk, in a park, or on other public property. Someone who was merely caring for a dog when it attacked can also be legally responsible.
Illinois uses a concept known as a strict liability in dog bite cases. Under state law, the dog owner is automatically liable for any injuries caused by their pet. The dog does not have to be from a dangerous breed, such as a pit bull or a rottweiler. It also does not matter whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior.
A personal injury lawyer can determine your eligibility to pursue compensation for your dog bite injuries. At Briskman, Briskman, and Greenberg, we understand that following a dog bite claim can be daunting, mainly if the incident involves a familiar dog or a family member. Once we listen to what happened, we can advise you on the best action to settle your claim while respecting your relationships.
Types of Evidence Needed for a Successful Chicago Dog Bite Claim
You will need evidence to support your dog bite claim. It is essential to seek medical treatment for your dog bite injuries, no matter how minor the wound may seem.
Seeing a doctor will protect you from infection and other complications and ensure you have medical records of your injuries. The documentation will establish the severity of your injuries and link them to the dog bite.
You should also report the dog bite incident to the police and local animal control. Get copies of the reports, as they will contain information about the attack.
Try to get a hold of the dog’s vaccination records and information about the dog owner, including contact details. You can also speak to witnesses who may have seen the dog attack.
Physical evidence documenting the dog bite will also be helpful for your claim. Take photos of your injuries and save any clothing from the attack.
Tips for Preventing Dog Bites
Predicting when a dog might bite is not always possible. However, many dog bites are preventable. Taking commonsense safety precautions can reduce the risk of an attack that causes serious injuries.
- Avoid approaching an unfamiliar dog.
- Before petting a dog, let it sniff you first.
- Refrain from disturbing dogs sleeping, eating, or taking care of puppies.
- Do not leave small children unsupervised around dogs.
If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, try to remain calm instead of panicking. Avoid making sudden, unexpected moves. Making loud noises or running away may encourage the dog to attack.
Do not make direct eye contact with the dog. Turning your body wholly or partially to the side can appear less threatening to the dog. Additionally, you can place a bag or jacket between you and the dog to protect yourself. If knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and cover your ears and neck with your hands.
First Aid for Dog Bite Wounds
Not only are dog bites painful, but they can also result in serious complications such as nerve damage and infections. Up to 18 percent of dog bites become infected with bacteria. If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, here are some steps to take to treat minor wounds once you get to a safe place.
- Stop bleeding using a clean, dry cloth to apply pressure.
- Immediately wash the wound with water and soap.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Cover the wound with a clean bandage.
Be sure to seek medical attention immediately, especially if your injuries are severe. Emergency treatment may be needed if you are experiencing excessive bleeding, loss of function, or excruciating pain.
Watch for signs of infection, such as redness, pain, warmth, swelling, or fever. Dog bites can potentially cause diseases like tetanus or rabies, which can be fatal if left untreated. In many cases, you may not know the vaccination status of the dog that bit you. A healthcare professional will properly treat infections, including giving you any necessary shots.
Contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dog bite, contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Briskman, Briskman, and Greenberg. We understand the traumatizing effects of a dog attack and how the incident can affect your life. Our law firm has helped countless clients recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other dog bite-related costs. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.