Experienced Dog Bite Attorney in Peoria, IL
If you’ve suffered injuries in an attack by a dog or other animal, you may be entitled to sue the pet owner and recover damages under Illinois law. The path to recovery in a dog/animal bite lawsuit is somewhat different than a “standard” negligence-based injury lawsuit.
Let’s take a closer look.
Strict Liability for Illinois Pet Owners
In Illinois, dog and animal attacks are subject to strict liability principles. Put simply, the pet owner can be held liable for the pet’s attack (or attack attempt, if it leads to injury) so long as the attack is causally linked to your injury. It is irrelevant whether the owner failed to exercise due care in preventing their pet from engaging in the attack.
For example, suppose that a pet owner is taking their dog for a walk around the neighborhood. They have done “everything right” by having a well-trained dog on a controlled leash, but something goes wrong and their dog suddenly lashes out at a passing pedestrian and bites them. Though the owner cannot necessarily be said to have acted negligently, they can still be held liable under strict liability principles.
Under Illinois law, pet owners have two primary defenses in the event of a dog/animal attack lawsuit.
Trespassing is a complete defense to liability. Pet owners are not liable for attacks if the injured plaintiff was not lawfully on the property. For example, if you pass through a neighbor’s backyard without permission and are subsequently attacked by his guard dog, you cannot sue and recover damages, as you were trespassing at the time of the attack.
If you — the injured plaintiff — provoked the dog, thus leading to the bite/attack incident, Illinois law will bar you from recovering damages. Provocation is a complete defense to liability in the context of animal attacks.
Whether you actually provoked the animal is a factual question that will depend on the unique circumstances surrounding the attack.
For instance, if the owner warns you that their dog is “jumpy” and will react aggressively to petting, then the court might find that you provoked the dog if you ignored the owner’s warning and chose to pet the dog anyway.
Contact Parker & Parker for Legal Assistance
Dog and animal bite litigation may seem straightforward at first glance, but depending on the circumstances, the case can quickly get out-of-hand. We’re here to help evaluate your underlying claims, develop an effective litigation strategy, and secure the maximum available compensation for your losses.
At Parker & Parker, our attorneys have extensive experience advocating on behalf of those who have been harmed in a variety of injury scenarios, including dog and animal bite incidents. The breadth of our experience has taught us the value of truly client-centered service. We engage closely with the client from an early stage, thus ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the facts and valuable insight into their goals and concerns throughout the litigation process.