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Common Misconceptions About Dog Bites

Tue 17 Oct, 2023 / by / Personal Injury

Those who are bitten by a dog–even those who have suffered serious injuries–tend to have a lot of questions about whether they even have a case or what they can do to move forward and heal. This is because there are a lot of misconceptions about what is needed to bring a dog bite lawsuit and receive damages. Read on to learn about these seven common misconceptions about dog bites in Illinois. 

#1: My Neighbor Did Not Mean for His Dog to Bite Me, So I Do Not Have a Case.

There are rare cases when a person really intends for their dog to bite another person. Many times, dog bites happen due to a mistake. Perhaps the neighbor left his door open for a second too long, the dog escaped, and it bit someone walking along the sidewalk. Although this is an accident and not intentional, that does not mean that the neighbor gets a free pass. Depending on where you live, the neighbor has an obligation to properly restrain and supervise his animals. 

#2: This Was the First Time the Dog Never Bit Anyone, So I Cannot Recover Damages.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about dog bite laws. It is true that there are some states that have a so-called “one bite free” law. Essentially, this means that the dog is allowed to bite someone once before any action can be taken. If the dog bites again, the owner was “on notice” about the dog’s tendencies, and so he will be liable for any future bites. This is not the law in Illinois. Dog owners are liable for dog bites even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.

#3: An “Aggressive Breed” of Dog Bit Me, So I’m Going to Get a Lot More Money for the Bite.

While certain breeds of dogs are more likely to bite humans than other breeds, the law does not take breed into consideration when deciding whether the owner was at fault in a dog bite case. What matters, in terms of the law, is whether there was a dog bite and the actions of the party who was bitten. Breeds can also be misleading. Although larger dogs, such as pit bulls and rottweilers, are often thought of as the breeds most likely to bite, smaller breeds, such as chihuahuas, are some of the biggest dog bite offenders. It is true that insurance companies do sometimes care about dog breeds. Those insureds with dogs of a certain breed may pay higher premiums. 

#4: I Should Not Get a Medical Report From a Plastic Surgeon Unless I’m Positive That I Will Need Plastic Surgery.  

Certain dog bites are so serious that they may require plastic surgery to fix the injuries that were sustained. However, other dog bites may be less serious and cause the injured person to think that they would not need plastic surgery. Even if the bite appears fairly superficial, that bite could cause significant scarring. It is imperative that a dog bite victim submit a report from a plastic surgeon before damages are awarded. Otherwise, that victim will end up paying for plastic surgery out of pocket. Many health insurance companies will treat plastic surgery as a cosmetic procedure rather than medically necessary, and there will be no way to recoup the cost.

#5: My Injuries Are Not That Serious, and I Don’t Want Anything Else Bad to Happen, So I Should Just Keep Quiet About It.  

The thing about any injuries–whether they are from a dog bite or another sort of personal injury–is that you never know the full extent of them. What is visible to the naked eye might not be the full extent of the injury. This is especially the case immediately after the injury. Some people are visibly injured right away, while others may not have a visible injury until days later, or only have internal injuries. This does not mean that the injury was any less serious. Furthermore, an injury can increase in seriousness as time goes on. You might have a slightly sore back now from trying to twist away from the dog, but that could turn into a chronic back injury. Additionally, when injuries happen, adrenaline tends to take over. This means that our bodies will tell us that we are okay, and it is not a big deal, but the adrenaline is masking the full extent of the injury. This is why it is important to seek medical attention immediately, no matter what, and follow all of the doctor’s recommendations. 

#6: I Didn’t Actually Get Bitten, So I Can’t Bring a Lawsuit Against a Dog’s Owner.  

Although you will not be able to argue that the dog bit you, you still might have a case if you got injured during an encounter with a dog, even if the dog’s teeth did not make contact with your person. You may sustain injuries when the dog attempts to bite you, such as falling when trying to escape or hurting your back. Additionally, dog attacks can lead to emotional trauma. Many people who have been attacked by a dog suffer from emotional trauma and need therapy to resume normal activities. 

#7: I Think I Provoked the Dog to Bite Me, So I Don’t Have a Case.

This is something for a lawyer to review. Oftentimes, people who are bitten by dogs will blame themselves for causing the dog to attack. While there are clear cases of instances when a person induces a dog to attack, this is not always the case. The concept of “provocation” is very nuanced and something best reviewed by an attorney. 

Hire an Illinois Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you have been bitten by a dog and do not know what to do next, contact an experienced Illinois dog bite attorney. We will review the unique facts of your case and let you know what next steps to take. Contact us today.