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I’ve Just Been Bitten by a Dog–What Now?

Fri 14 Apr, 2023 / by / Personal Injury

It has become common to hear of people attacked by dogs–sometimes fatally–when they are minding their own business. Almost five million people are attacked by dogs each year in America. Nearly a million people seek medical attention for their injuries, according to the CDC. As a result of the harm, insurance companies pay out over $1 billion in claims per year for personal injury cases.

Just because dog bites are common does not mean that they should be accepted. Dog bites can cause profound harm, and people who have been bitten deserve to be compensated for that harm. Read on to learn about the dog bite laws in Illinois and what you can do if you are a victim of a dog bite.

What is the Law in Illinois Regarding Dog Bites?

Illinois has something called the Illinois Animal Control Act. Prior to this law being passed, those seeking a remedy needed to show that the owners of the dog were aware that the dog was aggressive. Known as the “one bite rule,” the victim needed to show that the dog’s owner either bit again or threatened to bite.

That is no longer the law in Illinois. In order to recover from injuries suffered in Illinois, the plaintiff must show that 1. There was a dog attack 2. The attack resulted in injury 3. There was no provocation 4. The plaintiff was peaceably acting in a place he had a right to be.

Still, dog bite cases are not always straightforward. 

Showing that there was no provocation can be challenging. Provocation means that the person did something to induce the dog to bite. Further Illinois legal decisions have defined provocation as something that a reasonable person thinks would provoke a dog to bite and an action that a normal dog would respond to. 

Some instances of provocation are fairly obvious, such as assaulting a dog who bites to defend himself. However, some instances of provocation are less obvious. Someone who does not want to pay for damages will argue that there is provocation.

There also may be a dispute about whether the person was peaceably in a place he had a right to be. However, courts have found that people in parks, dog beaches, and sidewalks are peaceably where they could be.

What Injuries Can Result from Dog Bites?

Dog bites can cause everything from superficial to serious injuries. Here is a list of what may happen after a dog bite:

  • Scars
  • Puncture wounds
  • Nerve damage
  • Face injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Eye Injuries
  • Fractured/broken bones
  • Infection 
  • Rabies 
  • Emotional distress

One thing to keep in mind is that you do not actually have to be bitten by a dog to experience harm. If you were injured when you were running away from an out-of-control dog or you were knocked down by a dog that charged you, you might still be able to recover money for your injuries.

So, What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?

Getting bitten by a dog can be scary and disorienting. Here are the three things that you should do following a dog bite.

  • Take Photos

It is important you take a picture of the affected area as soon as possible. Take the photos in adequate light to showcase the damage. If so, get a picture of the dog, as well as a picture of where the bite occurred. 

  • Seek Medical Care

Get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you do not think you have been injured, it is imperative that you have a doctor make that determination. Not getting medical care can lead to infection or more extensive injury. Furthermore, not having the medical documentation can harm further claims.

  • Get Legal Representation

Sometimes, the dog’s owner will do the right thing and pay for any damages that you have suffered. Unfortunately, they don’t always do what they should. This is why you may have to seek a lawyer to help you get your bills paid. A lot of lawyers represent themselves as being personal injury lawyers who can do dog bite cases. Make sure to get an attorney who actually has represented victims in dog bite cases.

Filing a Lawsuit

Deciding to file a dog bite lawsuit is a personal choice. Sometimes, it may be the only way that you can get compensation for your injuries. Here are some of the top questions you may have about filing a dog bite lawsuit.

  • What Compensation Can I Get?

You can recover your medical expenses, which can go beyond an initial doctor’s visit. You may need physical therapy, chiropractor services, or plastic surgery to restore a disfiguring appearance. You may also be able to get compensation for the loss of enjoyment and normal life that occurred as a result of the bite.

  • How Will My Bills Be Paid?

In Illinois, a dog’s owner can be responsible for a dog bite. They may have to pay out of pocket or their insurance could cover it. An umbrella policy could cover dog bites. Homeowners’ insurance may also cover damages resulting from dog bites. If insurance does not cover the dog bite, then the owner may be personally liable for the damages.

  • What is the Average Recovery for a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Of course, every case is different. For people in Illinois, the average dog bite settlement is around $30,000. Sometimes, the number is higher, and sometimes it is lower. That number takes into account things like pain and suffering, as well as the physical damages that a dog bite victim could suffer.

Contact an Illinois Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you have been bitten by a dog, be sure to reach out to experienced Illinois dog bite attorneys. Contact us at 309-886-6325 to go over your case.