Dogs are said to be our best friends – and in a city like Chicago, a dog park can feel like a best friend to a cooped-up canine.
Dog parks offer opportunities to give your dog some much-needed exercise, practice training, build family bonds, and meet other dog owners. Yet dog parks can come with risks as well. Dogs who aren’t well trained or who become overstimulated in a dog park may bolt or bite another dog or person – leaving you worried, facing unexpected bills, or even injured.
If you’ve been injured in a Chicago dog park, don’t wait. Talk to the team at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg today. We’ll help you understand your legal rights and consider your options.
Popular Dog Parks in Chicago
Chicago is full of dog owners, which means it’s also full of dog parks. Some of the most popular dog parks in Chicago include:
- Jackson Bark: Consistently ranked one of the best dog parks and training areas in the city.
- Lakeshore East Dog Park: A beautiful park that’s still not well known among dog owners.
- Logan Square: This park is especially well-suited for small dogs.
- Montrose Dog Beach: Take your dog to Lake Michigan with Chicago’s largest dog beach!
- Puptown Dog Park: Puptown is fully fenced-in, adding extra peace of mind for owners with skittish or curious dogs.
- Wiggly Field: The city’s first off-leash dog park offers a separate area for small dogs.
Any of these parks offer great opportunities for your canine companion – but risks can arise as well, including the risk of dog bites.
Leash Requirements in Chicago’s Dog Parks
Chicago Municipal Code Chapter 7-12 requires dogs to be on leashes whenever they are off their home property unless they are working as rescue or law enforcement dogs. Dogs can also be transported in crates, cages, or vehicles instead of being on a leash一but they cannot run free.
Chicago’s Dog-Friendly Areas (DFAs) allow dogs to be off leashes. Many dog parks are DFAs, as is the dog park section of Montrose Beach. To be off-leash, a dog must have a permit and tag. City veterinarians frequently offer these permits and tags.
Letting your dog off the leash can be fun for your dog, but it also comes with risks. Even the most well-trained dog may run away if spooked or chasing prey. Nearly any dog will bite if it feels sufficiently threatened. Owners can face fines or lawsuits if their dog is labeled a stray or causes injury to others.
Typical Injuries Sustained in a Dog Bite Attack
Most dog bites are not fatal. Yet dog bites can cause serious injuries. About 20 percent of dog bites require medical attention, and some require hospitalization, according to the CDC.
Common injuries suffered in dog bite attacks include:
- Lacerations and damage to the skin, including puncture wounds.
- Damage to muscles and nerves beneath the skin.
- Severe scarring, which is often permanent.
- Infections resulting from bacteria in the dog’s mouth, which can become deadly if not treated.
Severe dog bites can cause serious blood loss or broken bones. In a dog attack, a person who is knocked to the ground can also be injured by a fall.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Dangerous Than Others?
Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds all have a reputation for being dangerous. Yet the risk for dangerous behavior from a dog comes down to two factors: temperament and environment.
Many dog breeds are well-known for their personalities. Labradors, for instance, are prized as family dogs for their easygoing, companionable natures. Rottweilers are bred for their protective habits and natural suspicion of strangers. Just as temperament makes some humans more likely to lash out than others, temperament makes some dogs resort to biting more quickly than others.
Any dog, however, will become dangerous in certain environments. A dog that feels threatened or cornered is more likely to attack in order to protect itself or its puppies. Dogs that experience abuse or did not receive adequate socialization as puppies are also more likely to bite.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bite Attacks in Dog Parks
A dog bite attack in a dog park may be more likely, but that doesn’t mean an injured person must accept the consequences without seeking legal help.
What happens if a person is attacked by a dog who is off-leash?
Violating Chicago leash law comes with a $300 penalty even if the dog doesn’t harm anyone. If the dog bites or attacks a person, the fine may be as high as $10,000. Jail time or community service may also result.
While these rules differ in dog-friendly areas, a person injured by a dog may still seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. Fines for dogs off-leash in DFAs without a tag and permit can be as high as $500 per dog.
What happens if someone is attacked on the street or at a park, how do dog bite laws apply?
Chicago requires dog owners to control their dogs with leashes, crates, or cages if the dog is not on its home lot. If the dog bites or attacks someone, Illinois’ strict liability dog bite law holds the dog owner liable for the injuries.
The state’s dog bite liability law applies even if the dog has never attacked anyone or shown violent tendencies before. In addition, the Illinois Animal Control Act allows an injured person to recover damages for any injury sustained in a dog attack – not just for dog bites.
What’s the difference between getting bit by a neighbor’s dog vs. a stranger’s dog?
While Chicago’s municipal code requires owners to restrain dogs who are off their own property, the law does not require owners to restrain dogs that are on their own property. A dog in the house or yard belonging to its owner may roam freely within that space.
A person injured by a dog that is on its home territory, however, still has certain legal rights. In this instance, the injured person may need to demonstrate that the dog’s owner failed to warn about the dog.
The results of the claim can also depend on whether the dog was provoked and by whom. If the owner provoked the dog to bite a neighbor or visitor, for instance, the owner is more likely to face liability for any injuries resulting from the dog’s aggressive response to the provocation.
What is the legal process if I am a tourist and get bit by a dog?
Tourists who experience dog attacks or dog bites while visiting Chicago have the same legal rights as Illinois residents who suffer dog attacks. These include the right to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and damaged property. Those injured can also seek compensation for pain and suffering, mental or emotional trauma, and the burden of lifelong scarring or disfigurement.
If you’re a tourist, pursuing your case can seem daunting. How can you file a claim when you expect to be back in your home state – or even another country一in a few days or weeks?
Working with an experienced attorney can help. Your Chicago dog bite and personal injury lawyer can handle your case and communicate with you so you can seek compensation without having to abandon your everyday life to do so.
Where to Turn for Help After a Dog Park Incident
After a dog bite injury, you may struggle not only to heal from your wounds but to deal with the mental and emotional impact of the attack. You may worry about how you’ll support your family as you heal. You may fear you’ll never fully regain function in the affected body parts or that you’ll be left with permanent scars. You may even be unable to see your own canine best friend as the source of comfort you once did.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Understanding the time limits and areas of experience connected to dog bite claims can help you move forward.
Choosing an Attorney With Experience in Personal Injury Law and Dog Bite Cases
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, your first instinct may be to look up “Chicago dog bite attorney” in your favorite search engine. When screening for attorneys, however, it’s important to consider their experience not only in handling dog bite cases but also in handling personal injury claims.
Many dog bite cases involve losses that aren’t restricted to a dog bite. A dog bite in a park, for instance, may involve another injury, such as a fall, if the dog also knocks you down. Personal injury lawyers know how to handle these related claims in addition to your dog bite. They can ensure you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled.
To learn more, talk to the experienced Chicago dog park injury lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg today. Contact us to schedule a no-cost, confidential case evaluation.