In Illinois, strict liability laws define all animal attack incidents. Strict liability means that the owner of the animal cannot make the argument that he or she had no warning of the animal’s aggressive nature or likelihood of attacking another person or animal.
If the animal attacked another person or animal and was unprovoked, the owner is liable for the injuries sustained from the attack because technically, the dog is the owner’s property.
Under State of Illinois law, a dog bite victim is eligible for compensation under the doctrines of negligence, negligence per se, scienter, and intentional tort.
There is a special Illinois state statute regarding dog bites referred to as the “Animal Control Act”. This statute makes the owner liable for any injuries to others, without negligence on the part of the defendant. The statute defines these owners as, “any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her”.
The statute further explains the context of a situation in which a dog’s owner can be held liable, stating,
“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
Trespassers who are bitten by an animal within the boundaries of another person’s private property will likely not have a strong claim against the owner. Individuals acting to provoke an animal is also not protected under the clause of plaintiff negligence and will likely not have a strong claim against the owner.
If the defendant acts with negligence, that is the defendant breaches a duty that he or she holds and that breach of duty results in another person’s injury, the defendant can be held liable for the injury.
Under the protection of negligence per se, the defendant is expected to follow any local laws and regulations regarding the animal’s care. If the defendant breaches any expected duty under local regulations, the defendant can be held liable for the injury.
Example: A local statute requires dogs to be on a leash at all times while in public. However, a dog owner at the park allows his dog off the leash. The dog, who is usually friendly, is engaged by a young boy who provokes the dog. The dog bites the boy, who was obviously continually provoking the animal. The owner could claim that the boy’s provocative actions resulted in the bite. But because the owner had the dog off leash, he was not following local statutes and can, therefore, be held liable.
A Chicago dog bite lawyer can assist with a dog bite injury case and answer any questions you may have throughout the process.