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They may be “man’s best friend,” but any dog can bite, and the statistics are quite startling. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year.

Of those who are bitten, the CDC reports that nearly one in five will require medical attention. Closer to home, the Illinois State Bar reported that in 2017 State Farm paid out $14 million in claims arising from dog bite injuries, the second highest number in the nation. Clearly, dog bite injuries happen much more frequently than you think, and the injuries can be severe.

If you’ve been attacked and bitten by a dog, you may be in pain and wondering what to do next. The experienced dog bite attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you deal with every aspect of the situation. From getting medical help to dealing with insurers, our Illinois personal injury lawyers, will advise you of your options, and explain what your claim is worth. More importantly, we can help you recover the compensation that you need and deserve.

If you would like to schedule a free consultation, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (217) 528-9955 or contact us online. We don’t charge up-front fees and are only pain when you recover compensation.

The Law in Illinois Regarding Dog Bites

Generally speaking, most personal injury cases are based on a negligence standard, meaning that the victim must prove that the at-fault party’s carelessness caused their injury. While this makes sense in the context of a car accident, it’s a little more complicated in a dog bite case. After all, dogs are animals who may not always behave predictably or may get away despite the owner’s best efforts.

For these reasons, most states have laws that specifically address injuries suffered from dog attacks. Illinois’ dog bite statute is found in the Animal Control Act. The law allows for dog bite victims to recover compensation for their injuries if the following elements are met:

  • The dog attacked, attempted to attack, or injured the victim;
  • The dog was not provoked; and
  • The victim had the legal right to be where they were when they were attacked (for example, the victim was not trespassing on the dog owner’s property).

If these three elements are met, then the owner may be held liable for all of the damages resulting from the dog bite. In addition, it’s important to note that the owner may be held liable for any injury, not just a dog bite. For example, the owner may be held responsible if their dog knocked the victim down and caused a concussion.

Illinois’ Strict Liability Standard for Dog Bites

Illinois law regarding dog bites is considered a “strict liability” statute. This means that the dog owner may be held liable based on the simple fact that the dog bit you. This is unlike many other states that follow the “one bite rule,” which requires the dog to have bitten someone previously for the owner to be held liable. As a result, Illinois law is very favorable in helping dog bite victims recover damages.

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Potential Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on the size and breed of the dog and other circumstances, injuries can range from somewhat minor to life-threatening. In some tragic instances, they can even be fatal. Children are especially at risk since their face and neck are right at the height of the dog’s mouth. The elderly can also suffer severe injuries, as a dog attack is more likely to knock them to the ground and result in additional injuries such as broken bones.

Here are some of the common injuries our clients have suffered as a result of dog bites:

  • Deep lacerations
  • Torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Broken bones
  • Concussions or other head trauma

Being attacked by a dog can be a traumatic event, resulting in emotional or psychological problems in addition to the bite injuries:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of sleep
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Lastly, dog bites also carry a risk of serious infection:

  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) – a type of staph infection
  • Pasteurella – a type of bacteria that can result in swollen joints and mobility issues

Depending on the severity of the injury, dog bites can require stitches, plastic surgery, and physical therapy. For those victims who suffer emotional trauma, particularly children, they may need months or even years of intense counseling and psychological therapy.

Potential Compensation After a Dog Bite 

If you’ve suffered from a dog bite, be aware that there may be harms that go beyond your physical injuries. In determining what your claim may be worth, an experienced dog bite attorney will consider:

  • Your medical expenses, especially out-of-pocket expenses you have paid such as any deductibles or other costs not covered by insurance
  • Lost wages as a result of time off of work due to disability or time off to receive medical treatment
  • Any additional transportation costs
  • Expenses for any physical therapy or counseling
  • Expenses for medical equipment such as crutches

In addition to your expenses, the attorney may also consider the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the attack.

Illinois Dog Bite Statute of Limitations

If you’ve suffered an injury after being bitten by someone’s dog, we recommend that you consult a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Under Illinois law, any lawsuit seeking compensation for a dog bite must be filed within two years of the attack. This may seem like a long time, but consider how much can change in two years. The dog’s owner may move away, as well as any witnesses to the attack. Memories fade, and documents get lost. In short, the longer you wait to pursue legal action and seek compensation, the harder it may be to prove your case. And if you wait more than two years to file your lawsuit, you will be unable to recover any compensation, no matter how strong your case may be.

Contact an Illinois and Chicago Area Dog Bite Attorney

Dog bite injuries can be extremely serious, with potential long-term consequences that could burden you for life, from scarring to permanent disability and disfigurement. You need to focus on your recovery, but be careful that you don’t neglect your future. Talk to an experienced dog bite attorney to see how they can help you get the compensation you need.

At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we work with dog bite victims across Illinois to make sure their rights are protected. From the moment you walk in our office, our lawyers will give you dedicated, personalized legal representation to get you the compensation you deserve. You should be made whole, and the dog owner should be held responsible.

Call us today at (217) 528-9955 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.  Let us explain your rights and options, go over your next steps and work to recover what’s right. We do not charge up-front fees and will not be paid unless you obtain compensation.

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Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.

If you’ve been hurt, it can be hard to know where to start. We begin every case with a free, no-risk evaluation. We’ll discuss your situation, answer your questions, and determine what comes next. Act now and get the recovery you deserve.

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