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Dog Bites & Attacks

2594247316_85bcbfdeb1_oMany of us have pets. Our dogs and cats can feel like part of the family. However, at the end of the day, they are still animals that can be dangerous. And unfortunately, sometimes they cause injury.

Dogs become aggressive for various reasons. It usually isn’t their fault because sometimes a dog is owned by someone who is abusive or neglectful. In some instances, the dog has been actually trained to be aggressive. Additionally, poor dog training can lead to bites ranging from the very minor to life threatening. And sometimes, it was an accident.

But you still have injuries.

When Is A Person Liable for An Animal Attack?

In Illinois, if a dog or another animal attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person, the owner of the animal is liable for the bite’s full amount of the injury. The person must be peaceably conducting himself or herself in a place where he or she may lawfully be and cannot provoke the animal.

It is very important for pet owners to pay close attention to their animals. However, when an animal does bite or injures another person, the owners are responsible for the damages. Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, all animal owners, including dog owners, have responsibilities to other people.

I Got Bit By a Dog. What Do I Do?

If you have been injured by a dog, leave the situation and document your injuries. Additionally, a report should be made to local animal control authorities. Animal control officials will document the animal’s history, provide a written report and work to prevent others from being bitten or attacked by a potentially dangerous animal in the future.

Did I Provoke the Dog?

downloadWhile provocation may be claimed as a defense in dog attack cases, Illinois law firmly places responsibility on dog owners when their canine injures a person due to a bite or attack. It is the responsibility of owners to take reasonable measures to control the actions and temperament of their animals. Here are a few things that dog owners are expected to do:

  • To keep dogs contained when on their premises or on a leash when in public;
  • To properly train their dogs and reinforce a peaceful temperament;
  • To supervise their animal when it interacts with strangers.

But The Dog Never Bit Anyone Before?

Dog owners no longer have a “one free bite” rule under Illinois law. Even if a dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner may be held responsible for the harm his or her dog causes.

I Was Bit At Work. Can I Contact an Attorney?

Many jobs, such as a letter carrier or UPS driver, involve going onto other properties and doing work. Many of us expect delivery drivers to bring packages to properties every day. When a person visits a property to perform a work duty and a dog bite occurs, you may be able to seek compensation from the property owner. The injured person may also seek workers’ compensation from their employer.

What Damages Are Possible?

Damages for mental pain and suffering may be a proper element of damages, as long as these injuries are connected with a physical injury. Generally, mental pain and suffering alone is not enough to allow for the recovery of damage. However, a person who is in a zone of physical danger, including a dog bite, has a right of action for physical injury relating to emotional distress. A person has this right because they have a fear for their own safety.

What Precautions Should a Dog Owner Take?

If you own a dog in Chicago or in the State of Illinois, you must care for that dog in a safe manner that does not threaten others. Failing to do so may lead to a dog bite accident and can cause people to be injured. Accidents can occur to people who live in your home, visit you, or are just stopping by. It is important to train your pet to be safe during any of those encounters. Remember, owners of an animal that attacks or harms a person are liable for the damages that result. This could mean medical bills, pain and suffering, and even payment for permanent injuries, like scarring or nerve pain. If the dog bite results in significant injury, these damages can add up quickly.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite, or animal attack that has resulted in significant medical treatment, please consult the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. to find out whether you can recover for your injuries and damages against the dog’s owner.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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