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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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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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