Each year across the United States, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog. The medical expenses alone after an Illinois dog average more than $18,000. This figure, however, does not consider the other economic and non-economic damages suffered by dog bite victims, such as lost wages, physical pain and emotional anguish. Considering that one in five dog bites become infected and the average length of a hospital stay following a dog bite is 50 percent longer than the typical stay, dog bite injuries can significantly impact a victim’s life.
At the Illinois personal injury law firm Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we represent dog bite victims, helping them obtain the compensation they need to move on with their life after these traumatizing attacks.
Dog Bite Laws in Illinois
Every state creates laws regarding an animal owner’s liability following a dog bite. Some states require that a dog bite victim prove that the dog’s owner knew that their dog was dangerous. In these states, dog bite victims can typically only recover financial compensation from a dog owner if the dog had previously bitten another person. This is called the “one bite” rule.
Illinois, however, does not subscribe to the one-bite rule. Instead, 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 the 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.
Additionally, under Illinois law, a dog does not need to “bite” a person for the animal’s owner to be liable for the victim’s injuries. The state’s dog bite law covers any injuries caused by a dog attack, including those reasonably related to a person’s attempt to escape an aggressive dog.
This means that, in most Illinois dog bite cases, the victim will not need to prove that the animal’s owner knew that the dog was dangerous or failed to restrain the dog properly. However, there are a few common defenses to dog bite claims that victims should anticipate.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims
Given that dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animals, not every case has a defense. However, the two primary defenses involve a claim that the bite victim was trespassing when they were attacked or that the victim was provoking the animal before the attack.
Notably, trespassing is quite narrowly defined under the Illinois dog bite statute. In other words, a victim does not necessarily need to prove that they had explicit permission to be on another person’s property; they only need to show that they were “lawfully allowed to be” at the location. For example, you are lawfully allowed to be on the concrete walkway leading up to a neighbor’s home, even though this is on their property.
The other defense to dog bite claims arises when the victim did something to provoke the animal. What constitutes provoking is not always clear; however, some animal behavioral experts claim that each breed has a set of different behavior that may provoke an animal. Given the subjectivity involved in the term provocation, dog bite victims should anticipate this as a potential defense in any Illinois dog bite case.
Consult With an Experienced Illinois Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you, your child or another family member was attacked by a dog, contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to schedule a free consultation. Since 1987, Briskman Briskman & Greenberg has been helping dog bite victims seek meaningful compensation that allows them to move on more easily with their lives after suffering serious injuries. 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.