In the United States, there are more than 48 million households that own one or more dogs. However, while dogs are known as “man’s best friend,” there are a considerable number of dog attacks each year. In fact, according to recent estimates, there are more than 1,000 dog bites per day across the United States, requiring roughly 850,000 people to seek medical care related to dog attacks. Many of these dog bites end in serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. The dedicated Chicago dog bite lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg have a long history of representing dog bite victims, helping them recover much-needed compensation to help them cover their accident-related expenses. After being attacked by a dog, we also understand that you are very likely going through a particularly challenging time in your life, and we do everything we can to make the recovery process as easy on you and your family as possible.
What Causes a Dog to Bite a Person?
Most dogs go their entire life without attacking or physically harming a person. However, dog bites are common, especially among certain breeds. One of the most common misconceptions about dog bites is that an animal needs a reason to attack. Many people find themselves being attacked by a dog without any reason at all.
That said, certain situations can act as a trigger for a dog to bite or attack a human. Below are a few of the most common reasons why a dog bites a person:
A Dog is Sick
Certain canine illnesses can make a dog more likely to attack a human. For example, rabies attacks a dog’s central nervous system, impacting how their brains work. This can lead a dog to bite when they have never exhibited any signs of aggression.
A Dog is Protecting Its Owner or Property
When a dog senses that a person is invading their space or getting too close to their owner, they may act aggressively in an attempt to protect their owner or property. Of course, a dog’s sense of what constitutes a threat is not always accurate, which is why dogs sometimes attack invited guests.
A Dog Is Scared
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 increases the perceived threat. This can cause the dog to continue with its attack.
A Dog Thinks It is Playing
Almost all dogs love to play; however, some dogs are gentler than others. What starts 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. Children are the most likely to be injured by a dog’s aggressive playing.
At the law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we have handled countless dog bite cases on behalf of victims throughout the Chicago area. We command an impressive knowledge of the state’s dog bite laws and have the skill, dedication, and resources necessary to effectively pursue a claim against the owner of the animal that attacked you.
Which are the Most Dangerous Breeds of Dog?
Another common misconception about dogs is that only certain breeds are capable of seriously hurting a human. While a handful of breeds are responsible for the vast majority of dog bite cases, any breed of dog is capable of hurting a human. Of course, smaller breeds will not be able to do the damage that a large breed can do, although they can still pose a threat to young children.
With that said, certain types of dogs are more dangerous than others. A dog’s dangerousness depends in part on its size but also on certain predispositions of the breed. When it comes to the most dangerous types of dogs, three breeds are always at the top of the list:
Pitbull terriers have a reputation for being an aggressive breed, and for a good reason. While Pitbulls make up only six percent of the total dog population in the United States, they are responsible for almost 70 percent of the dog attacks.  This is because Pitbulls have been bred to be aggressive fighting dogs. When people breed Pitbulls, the weaker and tamer animals are not disfavored over the larger and more aggressive ones. This results in a strong, aggressive, and potentially violent breed.
Huskies are not known as a dangerous breed. However, these animals have very lively, playful personalities that can result in problems when children are present. According to a study that tallied all dog-related fatalities between 2005 and 2017, Siberian Huskies were responsible for three percent of the deaths, or 13 deaths total.  While this may not seem like a particularly high number, it is important to keep in mind that there are hundreds of other breeds that did not kill a single person during that 13-year period. Additionally, the study only considered fatal dog bites and not those resulting in injury.
German shepherds are the third most dangerous breed of dog, behind Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Between 2005 and 2017, German shepherd attacks claimed 20 lives. This represents about five percent of all fatal dog attacks during the period. What makes German shepherds dangerous, according to a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association, is that they tend to inflict severe injuries when they bite a human. There is also significant “breed variability” in German shepherds, meaning while some German shepherds are calm and docile, others are much more aggressive and prone to attack.
Other dangerous breeds of dogs include:
• Alaskan Malamutes
• American Staffordshire Terriers
• Chow Chows
• Doberman Pinschers
• Great Danes
• Perro de Presa Canarios
While various breeds present unique risks, some being more dangerous than others, the law holds all dog owners equally accountable when their animal attacks another person. Regardless of the breed of dog that attacked you, the Chicago dog bite lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg can help you understand your rights and pursue a compensation claim.
How to Avoid Dog Bites
Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to avoid a dog bite. You may be walking your dog, look up, and see a Pitbull charging at you full speed. In these situations, your best bet is to try to get to safety as quickly as possible. However, here are a few tips that can reduce the chance of getting attacked by a dog.
1. Be alert – When you are outside and may encounter a dog, pay attention to your surroundings, keeping an eye out for any large, aggressive-looking or unattended dogs.
2. Appear relaxed – Dogs take direct eye contact as a sign of aggression. When an unfamiliar dog approaches you, face it at an angle, soften your eyes, open your mouth, and try not to relax your posture, as dogs may mistake your tenseness as a threat.
3. Know the warning signs – Dogs will often give cues when they are about to attack. While these cues vary depending on the breed, they often include wrinkling up their muzzle, baring their teeth, staring directly at you, or holding their tail straight up in the air.
4. Be careful when entering a dog owner’s home – When you visit someone who owns a dog, take a few steps back after knocking on the door. You do not want the dog to assume you are an intruder.
5. Try to stay calm – Remain calm when approached by an unfamiliar dog. Dogs may take your nervousness as either a sign of weakness or aggression, either of which can trigger an attack.
Of course, there are also some things you should always refrain from doing around a dog. These include:
• Never leave a dog alone with a young child;
• Do not run away from a dog that is chasing you;
• Do not scream or make sudden movements;
• Do not pet dogs that you do not know;
• Do not tease a dog;
• Do not try to scare a dog;
• Do not approach a dog that has puppies around it;
• Do not touch a sleeping dog; and
• Never use your hands to break up a dog fight; always use a hose, broom or another object.
If a dog is attacking you, there may be things you can do to lessen the chance of serious injury. For example, you can try to stuff something into the dog’s mouth that it can bite down on. You may consider taking off your shoe if there is nothing else around. If you do not have anything available, the next best option may be to sacrifice your less dominant arm. For example, if you are right-handed and see no other option, you could hold out your left arm. Once the dog bites you, do not pull back, as this will only make your injuries more severe and, if the dog loses its grip, it may bite again. Once you can get free from the dog, you want to face the dog with an aggressive stance. You can then attempt to back away slowly while still facing the dog. If all else fails, your only remaining option may be to curl up in the fetal position, covering your head and abdomen with your arms and legs. When the dog stops attacking, wait until it is at least 20 feet away before getting up.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
After suffering serious injuries in a dog attack, you may feel as though your world suddenly came crashing down. However, while this is an incredibly challenging time, it is also important that you follow a few simple steps to protect your health and your ability to pursue a Chicago dog bite claim against the animal’s owner.
Get to Safety
After a dog bite, the first thing to do is to make sure that the animal has lost interest in you before getting up to leave. You should remain on the ground until the dog is out of sight. However, you should at least wait until it is 20 feet away.
Obtain Immediate Medical Care
After a dog bite, the most important thing to do is to either call 911, visit an urgent care facility, or make an appointment with your primary care provider. In cases involving severe injuries, immediate medical attention is necessary to prevent more serious injuries. One out of every five dog bite wounds become infected, leading to many serious complications. Doctors can monitor your condition and treat any infection to decrease the chances of potentially lifelong injuries. It is also imperative that you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up medical treatment.
Document Where the Attack Occurred
Dog bites are incredibly traumatizing. It Is both understandable and common to forget important details about an attack. However, one of the most important things you can do after being attacked by a dog is to write down where the attack occurred, a description of the dog that bit you, and the owner’s name. If possible, you should also collect the homeowner’s insurance information from the owner.
Photograph Your Injuries
As soon as you can, be sure to take pictures of your injuries. Pictures will go a long way in proving the seriousness of your injuries. Photos taken immediately after an attack are more effective at portraying how traumatic the attack was.
File a Report
The next step is to contact animal control to report the attack. Animal control centers track the number of dog bites and will determine what to do with the dog after an attack. Reporting the bite serves as proof of the incident and protects others who may encounter the dog in the future.
Speak with an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer
After filing a dog bite report, the dog owner’s insurance company may reach out to you. The insurance company may want to discuss the attack, where it occurred, what you were doing at the time and the extent of your injuries. The insurance company may offer you money in exchange for an agreement not to file a lawsuit. However, it is important not to agree to anything without first speaking to a lawyer. If an insurance company offers to settle a case immediately, it often means the insurance company knows that your case has merit. Do not risk accepting a settlement for less than you deserve. Reach out to a Chicago dog bite lawyer to discuss your options.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer for Immediate Assistance
If you have recently been bitten by a dog, reach out to the dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. Our dog bite lawyers command an impressive knowledge of the laws governing Chicago dog bite cases and have a successful track record of recovering compensation on behalf of dog bite victims and their families. Since 1987, we have represented thousands of clients, helping them obtain meaningful compensation to cover their accident-related expenses. As part of the Briskman Guarantee, we will provide you with a free consultation during which we will answer all your questions and explain the recovery process in clear and understandable terms. We handle all dog bite cases on a contingency basis, meaning you will never pay us a fee unless and until we can get you the compensation you deserve. 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.