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Aurora Dog Bite Injury AttorneyBicyclists are some of the most frequent victims of dog attack injuries, especially when a dog is allowed to roam freely or without a leash. Dogs not only have the instinct to defend their territory, but also to chase after fast-moving objects that cross their path. Unfortunately, this means a bicyclist can be an attractive target, even for a dog that is not particularly aggressive. If you are injured by a dog while riding your bike, an attorney can help you pursue compensation from the dog’s owner.

Avoiding Dog Attacks While Biking

Coming across an unleashed dog while biking can be unpredictable and difficult to avoid. However, there are some safety precautions that can help bicyclists avoid being injured. If you see a dog in the distance while riding your bike, you may try to adjust your route to give the dog a wide berth. If the dog is closer and has already begun chasing you, trying to outrun it is often a bad idea. It may be safer to dismount and start walking your bike so that you are not as enticing to a dog who wants to chase a fast object. You can also keep your bike between you and the dog to use it as a barrier in case the dog becomes aggressive. Commanding the dog in a firm, authoritative voice may also convince the dog to back off.

Taking the Right Steps After an Injury

Dogs can cause injuries to bicyclists either by directly biting or attacking, usually on the lower legs, or by getting in a bicyclist's way and causing them to lose control of the bike. Crashing or falling off of a bike can result in severe injuries, including broken bones and traumatic brain injuries.

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Aurora Dog Bite AttorneyIllinois laws are friendly to dog bite injury victims, in that dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. This means that if you have been injured by a dog, you do not need to demonstrate the owner’s negligence in order to recover compensation. However, this does not necessarily mean that recovering the full compensation you deserve will be easy. There are many obstacles you may encounter, and it is beneficial to work with an experienced attorney who can help you confront them.

Challenges in Recovering Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

In most cases, the compensation available to dog bite victims comes from the owner’s homeowner liability insurance coverage. There are several ways in which an attorney can help you navigate the challenges of filing and settling an insurance claim, including:

  • Identifying the dog’s owner - Many dog bite injuries are caused by dogs who are unfamiliar to the victim, and it is not always easy to determine who the dog belongs to, especially if it is unleashed and roaming and it has no ID tags. An attorney can help you work with local law enforcement to find the dog’s owner so that you can initiate your claim.

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illinois dog bite lawyerThough most people are aware of the existence of rabies, actually contracting it may seem unlikely. In fact, the United States has mostly eliminated rabies among domestic animals like dogs and cats, thanks to the efforts of animal control departments and vaccination requirements for pets. However, a recent situation in Illinois has brought to light the fact that some dogs may still carry rabies, and with this in mind, dog bite victims should take the risk of infection seriously.

Illinois Takes Precautions in Response to Possible Rabies Exposure

The recent rabies care in Illinois stems from a group of rescue dogs that arrived at O’Hare International Airport from Azerbaijan in June. One of the dogs in the group was soon transported to Pennsylvania, where it tested positive for rabies after showing symptoms. As of yet, none of the other dogs have shown signs of infection, but efforts are in place to isolate and closely monitor them, including two dogs that still remain in Lake County, Illinois. Starting on July 14, Illinois will also benefit from a one-year, nationwide ban on imported dogs from high-risk countries.

Rabies Control and Treatment

Despite recent events, the chances of a large-scale rabies outbreak in Illinois are low. Pets who have been properly vaccinated for rabies are unlikely to contract the disease, especially if their owners closely supervise them. Rabies is also very treatable among humans, provided that early intervention is possible. When a person may have been exposed to rabies, health care providers can administer a vaccine known as postexposure prophylaxis, which neutralizes the effects of the rabies virus.

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illinois dog bite lawyerDog attacks are often unpredictable, and in the most severe cases, dog bites can leave life-altering or even life-threatening injuries. Never has this been more apparent than in a recent incident in which a FedEx driver was attacked by two dogs while delivering a package to a home in southern Illinois. The dogs, who had no known history of violence, managed to escape their home and left the driver with serious bite wounds on the arms and legs, ultimately requiring his left hand and wrist to be amputated. This horrifying case brings to light several important issues that all Illinois residents should be aware of in the event that they fall victim to dog bite injuries themselves.

The Risks of On-the-Job Dog Bite Injuries

Many occupations are at risk of dog bite injuries in the course of their work. Delivery drivers, postal workers, and any employees who provide services in homes or residential areas can be exposed to dog attacks. The same is true for employees in occupations that work directly with dogs, including veterinarians, groomers, trainers, and employees at boarding kennels or animal shelters. Employees who suffer work-related dog bite injuries are often entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits through their employer, whether the injuries happen at their primary workplace, a dog owner’s home, or any other location. These benefits can cover medical expenses, as well as lost wages in cases of temporary or permanent disability.

Illinois Dog Owner Liability

Anyone injured by a dog in Illinois, including an employee who is bitten while working, also has the right to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner. Because of Illinois’s strict liability law, dog bite victims do not need to show that the dog had a history of attacks, that the owner was aware of such a history, or that the owner’s negligence in any way contributed to the attack. A victim will, however, need to demonstrate that they had the legal right to be in the location where the attack occurred and that their behavior did not provoke the dog to attack.

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Chicago dog bite injury lawyersAccording to a recent report from State Farm, Illinois had the second-highest number of insurance claims for dog bite injuries in 2020 among all 50 states. These statistics seem to suggest that dog bite injuries are a serious problem in Illinois under any circumstances. However, another troubling trend in the report may indicate that dog bites are likely to increase over the next few months.

Namely, the report found that throughout the United States, the month with the most dog bite claims in 2020 was March, which also marked the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home orders throughout the country. Now that restrictions are starting to lift, some experts believe that this change could lead to a similar spike in 2021.

What Causes a Dog to Bite?

Dog bites can happen for many different reasons, but they are especially common when the animal is afraid or stressed. Many organizations that are familiar with dog behavior have noted that the start of the pandemic was likely a high-stress time for dogs, in part because of the change in their owner’s lifestyles and the stress of the owners themselves.

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Illinois animal attack attorneysWhile dogs are the most common domestic animals involved in Illinois injury cases, other types of animals are also capable of attacking and causing serious injuries. Especially in rural areas in DuPage County and throughout the state, injuries are possible from livestock including cattle, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, and birds. Just as a dog’s owner is often liable for injuries caused by the dog, the owner of farm animals can also be liable for injuries that those animals cause.

Strict Liability in Farm Animal Injury Cases

According to Illinois law, strict liability applies when “a dog or other animal” attacks or injures someone without provocation at a place where that person is legally allowed to be. This means that the owner of the animal is liable for all civil damages, even if the attack was not a result of their negligence.

Possible examples of strict liability cases involving livestock include:

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Illinois dog bit injury attorneyWhether you are spending a day at the park or you are out for a walk, jog, or bike ride, an encounter with an unfamiliar, unleashed dog may put you ill at ease, especially if the dog shows signs of aggression. In some cases, what starts as threatening behavior could turn into an attack that leaves you seriously injured. It is important to know what you should do if you are threatened by an unrestrained dog, as well as how you may be able to recover compensation if you are bitten or attacked.

How to React to a Threatening Dog

Dogs are territorial animals, and if you enter an area that they consider to be their territory, whether you are in a public place or passing by their owner’s home, they may react aggressively. If a dog growls, barks, bares its teeth, or raises its fur as you approach, it is important to stay calm and react appropriately to give yourself a better chance of avoiding an attack.

The ASPCA recommends slowing down, attempting to back away, and avoiding direct eye contact when you encounter an aggressive, unleashed dog. If possible, you should also attempt to move so that there is an obstacle between you and the dog, and in some cases, using a firm voice to command the dog to sit or stay may help to de-escalate the situation. Making sudden loud noises or approaching the dog aggressively yourself is likely to make the dog feel threatened and may make it more likely to attack, whereas trying to run away may encourage the dog to chase you. If a dog does attempt to attack you, the ASPCA recommends that you try to use an object like a bag, umbrella, or nearby stick as a shield to defend yourself, and to focus on protecting your head and face.

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Illinois dog bite injury attorneysIn recent weeks, Illinois residents have dealt with the effects of major snowstorms and near-zero temperatures, including the risk of slipping and falling on icy sidewalks and driveways. This risk may increase if you encounter a dog while you are out walking, as unfamiliar and friendly dogs alike may jump on you or run into your path, causing you to lose your balance. Unfortunately, falling on ice can often lead to serious injuries including broken bones, concussions, and more. If you have been injured in a fall caused by a dog, you may wonder whether it is possible to recover compensation from the dog’s owner.

Compensation for Non-Bite Injuries Caused By Dogs

Under Illinois law, a dog’s owner is considered liable for damages when their dog “attacks, attempts to attack, or injures” a person without provocation, provided that the injured person was lawfully permitted to be in the place where the injury occurred. Notably, unlike some other states, Illinois dog owner liability law does not specify that the injuries must have been caused by a bite. Therefore, the law can apply to a person who suffers injuries that require medical attention in a fall for which a dog is responsible. The injured person can pursue both economic damages related to medical care and damaged property, as well as non-economic damages related to pain and suffering, depending on the effects of the injuries.

The Advantages of Strict Liability for Dog Attack Injury Victims

While those who are injured in winter slip and fall accidents can sometimes recover compensation based on Illinois premises liability law, they often face significant obstacles when attempting to do so. First of all, such compensation is only available when the injury happened on another person’s property. Secondly, the injured person must demonstrate that the injury happened because the property owner was negligent in their duty to keep the premises safe, such as by failing to clear a walkway of ice within a reasonable time.

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Naperville dog bite injury attorneysAlthough the percentage of dog bites and attacks that result in fatal injuries is relatively small, an attack can be deadly, especially when the victim is a child or someone else who is unable to effectively defend themself. These cases can be especially devastating for the victim’s surviving family members, and while there is no way to bring the victim back, there are ways to hold the dog’s owner accountable.

Strict Liability for Illinois Dog Owners

According to Illinois law, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for all civil damages if someone is injured because the dog attacks without provocation and the attack occurs at a location where the victim is legally allowed to be. This means that a victim does not need to demonstrate that the owner’s negligence led to the attack, or that the dog had a history of violence that the owner was aware of. This strict liability applies not only to dog bites, but also any other unprovoked actions from the dog that cause an injury, including scratching and knocking a person to the ground.

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Can Recover Damages

In most cases, an injury victim must be the one to initiate the process of pursuing compensation from the owner of the dog who caused the injuries. However, if the injuries are fatal, a personal representative of the deceased can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf, with any resulting compensation usually being awarded to the victim’s spouse or next of kin. If the victim was a child, the parents will often be the ones to initiate the lawsuit. In any case, a wrongful death lawsuit must be initiated within two years of the victim’s death.

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Illinois dog bite injury attorneyMany people think of dogs as friendly animals, and this is often true, especially when they are cared for by responsible pet owners. However, if you have been bitten by a dog, you know just how dangerous they can sometimes be. In certain circumstances, a dog may be classified as dangerous, or even vicious, under Illinois law, and you may have questions about how these classifications can come into play in your case for compensation.

Illinois’s Dangerous Dog Classification

According to the Illinois Animal Control Act, there are two primary circumstances under which a dog can be defined as dangerous:

  1. When the dog is off its owner’s property, unattended by its owner, without a leash or muzzle, and acting in a way that threatens a person or their pet.
  2. When the dog bites someone without cause, if the bite does not result in a serious injury.

If the bite does result in serious or deadly injuries, or if the dog has been classified as dangerous three different times, the dog will instead be considered “vicious.” A dog may also be considered “potentially dangerous” if it is found running unrestrained and unsupervised in the company of at least three other dogs.

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Naperville dog bite injury attorneysA dog attack is often traumatizing in the moment, both mentally and physically, and unfortunately, many victims continue to experience trauma for many years after the fact. This is especially true for victims whose injuries result in permanent scarring or disfigurement that affects their appearance and physical abilities. If your dog bite injuries have left you with permanent scars, it is important that you understand your options for recovering damages.

Why Dog Bites Often Lead to Scarring

Though we often think of dogs as friendly animals, biologically they are predators, with teeth and jaws that can cause serious damage. Research indicates that some dog breeds can bite with a force of over 500 pounds, and when this force is used on a human, it can result in deep wounds and soft tissue that is torn or even ripped away completely, leaving the surrounding skin to scar as it attempts to heal. Medical researchers also suggest that permanent scarring may be more likely when a dog bite wound becomes infected, as the infection interferes with the healing process. Children, who are at a greater risk of dog bite injuries in the first place, also often scar more easily than adults.

Reacting to a Dog Bite Wound

Seeking immediate medical attention after a dog attack is crucial, because the longer you wait, the more likely your wound is to become infected, and the harder it is for a doctor or surgeon to treat or repair it in a way that minimizes scarring. You may be concerned about the cost of your  medical treatment, but the good news is that under Illinois law, a dog’s owner is considered liable for any injuries the dog causes in an unprovoked attack. An experienced attorney can help you file a claim against the owner in pursuit of the compensation you need.

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Naperville dog bite injury attorneysThough you may have seen portrayals of rabies in the media, it may not be a disease that you ever expect to contract yourself. It is true that rabies infections among humans are uncommon in the United States, but if you are bitten by a strange dog, it is still important that you take all of the necessary health precautions to avoid becoming infected with rabies or another disease.

What is Rabies and How Does it Spread?

Rabies is a virus that uniquely affects mammals and is primarily spread through the saliva of an animal that has been infected. In the United States, rabies is carried mostly by wild animals including foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats, but it can also be spread by a dog that has not received a rabies vaccination and has been in contact with wild animals. If you are infected with rabies, it can progress through your nervous system and severely impact your brain activity, resulting in confusion, hallucinations, fear of water, other unusual behavior, and death. Early treatment is crucial to stop the spread and prevent the more serious effects from taking hold.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Bitten?

If you have been bitten by a dog, whether or not you believe it may be rabid, you should clean your wounds as much as possible and seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor can not only care for your injuries, but can also administer treatment in the form of postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), which can eliminate the rabies virus before it has the chance to travel throughout your body. Additionally, your doctor can determine whether you may be at risk for other common dog bite infections, including pasteurella, tetanus, and MRSA or staph infections.

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Naperville dog bite injury lawyerIn the warm summer months, taking your dog to a dog park can be a fun activity for you and a great way for your dog to socialize and get exercise. However, because Illinois dog parks often allow dogs to run without a leash, there may be a greater risk of dog bite injuries. Before going to the park, you should take safety precautions that can protect you, your dog, and everyone around you.

Preparing For Your Trip to the Dog Park 

Dog park safety can start well before you arrive at the park itself. Here are some things you can do to promote a positive dog park experience:

  • Train your dog well: Before you let your dog off-leash at a dog park, make sure that it understands commands including “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” and that it will respond to your commands regardless of the environment. You can also attend dog obedience classes to acclimate your dog to the presence of other dogs.

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Naperville dog bite injury lawyerIf you are a dog owner, you likely consider your dog to be a member of the family and want to keep it safe from harm. If your dog is attacked by another dog, the situation can be extremely upsetting, and it is understandable that you would want some kind of compensation for your distress. In Illinois, it is possible to pursue recovery from the other dog’s owner under certain circumstances, and an experienced dog bite attorney can help you make your case.

Keeping Your Dog Safe From Other Dog Attacks

The best way to avoid the trauma of an attack on your dog is to take steps that can prevent it from happening in the first place. As a responsible dog owner, you should make sure to do all of the following:

  • Train your dog: Working with your dog on your own or attending a dog obedience class can ensure that your dog is comfortable around other dogs and abstains from behavior that could provoke another dog to attack.

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Naperville dog bite injury lawyerDogs are one of the most popular pets in the United States, but along with all of the positive aspects of owning a dog, there is a downside. Millions of Americans are bitten by dogs each year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and young children are especially at risk for both serious injuries and wrongful death resulting from dog bites. The good news is that many dog bite injuries are preventable, and whether your family owns a dog or simply comes into contact with dogs on a regular basis, the following are some preventative measures you can take to keep your children from becoming victims.

  1. Think carefully before adopting a dog. Before you decide to bring a dog into your household, you should research common behaviors of different breeds and learn about a dog’s personal history to ensure that the one you choose is a good fit for a home with young children. You should also make sure that you have the time and ability to properly train a dog and educate your children on dog ownership so as to minimize the potential for a bite.

  2. Supervise your children when a dog is around. If you have a dog in your home, you should always supervise its interactions with your children or guests. The same is true for other dogs you and your kids may encounter throughout the day, for example, at a park or on a walk. Supervision is especially important for infants and very young children who have not yet learned how to behave around dogs.

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Will County dog bite injury attorney

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease in some places, one can expect to see an increased amount of activity outdoors, including more people out and about walking their dogs. Even though most of these dogs you will see are docile and friendly, a dog bite incident can occur at any time. Whether caused by poor ownership and handling or a simple misinterpretation of a dog’s body language, the effects of a dog bite can be serious, potentially fatal, and threaten not only the physical health of the victim but his or her mental state as well.

Considering the damage a single dog bite can do, it is unfortunate for residents of Illinois that the state ranks among the highest for dog bite incidents. Despite having one of the lowest rates of dog ownership in the United States, Illinois residents filed 822 claims for dog bites in 2018, according to a recent article from MoneyWise. This makes Illinois the fourth highest in the nation for dog bite-related claims, topping claims made by residents of Wisconsin, Michigan, and even New York.

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Naperville dog bite injury lawyerDogs, much like their human owners, are social creatures — they play, communicate, and sometimes show aggression. These behaviors may, however, be interpreted incorrectly by humans. The fact of the matter is, even dog-owning Americans can have difficulty interpreting their best friend’s behavior because play fighting may often be indistinguishable from the real thing. Dogs will growl, bark, bite, and scratch during play fighting, exactly the same as they may behave during an actual fight. Fundamentally, this is unlikely to change over the course of a dog’s life, and even adult and elderly dogs may engage in nipping and play biting, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It is important to be aware of dogs' behaviors in case any encounters turn aggressive and result in injuries.  

The Difference Between Mouthing and Biting

A playing dog may engage in a behavior commonly referred to as “mouthing”— or biting without much force or intent to cause damage. Mouthing is a common behavior that most dogs engage in, irrespective of breed, size, age, or temperament, among other factors. Although a mouthing dog may not intend to cause any damage, mouthing can still result in injury. Nonviolent dogs may still harm humans or other dogs while mouthing as the dog may be unaware of how much force they are using and how much force is necessary to cause injury.

If you are playing with a dog and worry their playful mouthing may injure you, or even turn aggressive, here are some general precautions listed by the ASPCA to avoid escalating things:

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Chicago personal injury attorney dog bite attack

In the United States, many people keep animal companions in their homes, and as part of their family. By far, the most popular animal to have as a pet in the United States is a dog. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 38 percent of American households own at least one dog. Keeping a dog as a pet has been found to have many benefits, such as relieving stress levels. However, they can also pose a risk to your family and others. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog each year in this country. Of those bitten, approximately 800,000 of them end up having to seek medical treatment for their injuries, with at least half of those being children. Injuries from a dog bite can range from a superficial laceration to nerve damage to disfigurement and scarring. Children are by far the most common victims of dog bites, often suffering from injuries to their head, face, or neck during the incident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore your options for seeking compensation.

Tips for Staying Safe

Most dogs are rather friendly toward humans and other animals. However, it is important to remember that all dogs, no matter their breed, age, or size, have the potential to bite. When it comes to keeping your children safe from dog bites or other animal bites, it is important to remember that most dog bites can be prevented. Educating your children on how to approach and interact with animals is the best way to keep them safe. Here are a few other tips to follow:

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Naperville dog bite injury lawyerFor many families in Illinois, it is almost unthinkable that their beloved pet dog may cause injury to someone, though even peaceful dogs can bite given the right circumstances or if provoked. Dealing with a dog bite injury can be traumatic for the victim and also cause distress for the owners for whom the dog may be considered a member of the family. In cases such as these, Illinois has a specific procedure in place to handle the potentially dangerous animal and analyze the facts of the case.

What Happens After a Dog Bite

Although a dog from Illinois is no more or less likely to bite than a dog from another state, Illinois state law places more liability on the owners of dogs who bite or attack. According to the Illinois Bar Journal, State Farm paid $14 million for dog-related claims in Illinois in 2016, second only to California. The penalties for violent incidents involving dogs can be much stiffer in Illinois than in neighboring states because of the Animal Control Act. The potential timeline and repercussions for a dog bite may vary with factors such as a civil suit or appeal, but you can expect the following to occur immediately following a dog bite:

  1. The dog bite must be reported to an appointed veterinarian licensed by the State of Illinois within 24 hours.
  2. The dog will then be placed in confinement for a period of 10 days for observation, which may be reduced or extended depending on the results of the observation period, the discretion of the veterinarian, and other extenuating circumstances.

While the law clearly prescribes what must occur immediately following a dog bite incident, what happens next depends on the unique details of each case. The court will look at whether or not the dog was leashed, if the dog has acted aggressively in the past, and whether or not the dog was provoked to aggression. Depending on such factors, the owner of the aggressive dog may face criminal charges, civil charges, or both.

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Wheaton dog injury lawyerIf you are a dog owner, you have probably experienced a variety of dog-to-dog socialization moments while out on a walk. When another dog owner asks if their dog can say hello (or vice versa) it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged, since dogs must be socialized to prevent them from reacting poorly to other dogs. There are effective strategies that you can use in these situations to prevent your dog from getting bit or from getting injured yourself.

Letting Dogs Greet and Play With Each Other

If you are familiar with the body language that dogs use when a person approaches them, that information applies in animal interactions as well. One detail to pay attention to is whether or not both dogs are spayed or neutered. It will be difficult to tell at a glance whether a female dog has been "fixed," but this is often easily noticeable for male dogs. This can have a significant impact on the interactions between dogs, since non-neutered males are likely to exhibit dominant behavior towards other males, and females that have not been spayed are likely to show dominant behavior towards other females. If you cannot assess this, there are a variety of other behaviors to watch for to keep your dog safe.

Almost every time two dogs interact for the first time, they will want to familiarize themselves with the other’s scent to establish trust. If the other dog is very tense, has their tail between their legs, and will not let your dog sniff them, that is already a sign that you should slow things down. If you let your dog get too excited at this point, you risk eliciting a fearful bite in response. 

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Contact an Illinois Dog Bite Attorney

If you have suffered a dog bite injury, our personal injury lawyers can help you determine the actual value of the damages you have suffered, and we will work to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us at 630-552-6860 or fill out the form below to arrange a free consultation.

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