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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 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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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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