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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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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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