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Dog Bites Lawsuits Dog Bites Lawsuits

Dog Bites Lawsuits

“Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Almost 1 out of 5 bites become infected.”

– Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are bitten or harmed in any way by another person’s dog, that person can be held liable for any resulting damages — depending on how the incident occurred. In order to receive compensation for your injuries, you can file a dog bite lawsuit against the owner.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury?

Liability for injuries in a dog bite differs by the state.

Under 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, 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 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 are 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 held 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 animals 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 time while in public.

However, a dog owner at the park lets 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.

How Do I File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Dog bite cases are relatively straightforward as compared to other personal injury cases.

To file a claim against a dog owner, use the information above to establish that the owner can be held liable for the incident. The injuries that you endure must be the direct result of the dog bite.

Damages

After establishing a liable party, make a list of all current and future costs resulting from the injury. These costs may include:

  • Medical Bills
  • Expected Future Medical Costs
  • Lost Wages
  • Permanent Scarring
  • Rehabilitation
  • Permanent Disability

A dog bite is a traumatic event and often results in psychological scarring. Along with physical damages (injury), you may be entitled to compensation in the form of punitive damages for any emotional damages that you endured.

Evidence

You will likely have to deal with an insurance provider at some point during the duration of the claims process. It is important to compile tangible evidence to prove that the bite did occur, otherwise the insurance provider may refuse to cover you. Examples of tangible evidence include:

  • Photographs of the Scene and Injuries
  • Medical Bills
  • Incident Reports
  • Witness Reports

After you have gathered evidence and established your damages, you will need to hire a dog bite lawyer to help you file a claim.

While there is a small chance that the owner is protected by insurance, most insurers do not cover dog bite incidents. If they are covered, your lawyer will work to negotiate a settlement with their insurance provider. If the owner is not covered, your lawyer will need to file a claim against them in court. From that point, the owner can either negotiate a settlement or go to trial.

How Do I Choose a Dog Bite Lawyer?

It is important that you find a dog bite lawyer who is experienced and dedicated to your case. While dog bite lawsuits are less costly than most other personal injury cases, you should still try to find a dog bite lawyer who offers a contingency fee arrangement. If your lawyer does not work on contingency, they do not have as much motivation to win the case. They get paid regardless. If your lawyer is working on contingency, they will be just as dedicated as you are to winning the case and maximizing the compensation outcome. You also want to find a dog bite lawyer who is easy to contact and who will keep you up-to-date on the stages of your case.

Some important questions to consider asking before hiring a dog bite lawyer:

  • Do you have experience with dog bite lawsuits? If so, what was the outcome?
  • How do I pay you? Are there upfront fees?
  • Do you work on contingency?
  • How do I contact you?

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