Dogs bite nearly 5 million people a year in the U.S. Almost half of those injured are children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. About 800,000 Americans each year seek medical attention for wounds from dog bites, and 386,000 require emergency room treatment. About 16 people die every year after being attacked by a dog. The CDC’s figures do not consider the psychological trauma of experiencing an animal attack.
It is a simple fact of life that dogs bite. This includes any dog of any breed. A dog bite can be anything from a nip to a traumatic attack that leaves a serious injury. A serious injury suffered in a dog attack is reason to hold the dog’s owner accountable, and for the dog bite victim to seek compensation for all medical expenses, pain and suffering and other harm caused by the bite.
If you have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in an animal attack that occurred in the Chicago area or anywhere else in Illinois, the personal injury attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. want to help you.
Our firm has a history of protecting the rights of dog bite victims, including securing a $1.125 million settlement in 2013 on behalf of a 17-year-old Zion boy who was attacked by dog while riding his bike (one of the largest settlement of its kind in Illinois).
To learn more about how we can assist you, call us today or use our online form and schedule a free consultation.
The Illinois Animal Control Act erased the “one free bite” law. The law had excused dog owners from being liable for a bite by their pet if they were not aware of the animal’s propensity to bite.
Today, Illinois law specifically states:
“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in damages to such person for the full amount of the injury sustained.”
A serious bite is not a playful nip or even a minor injury that bruises someone who came into contact with a dog at the wrong time. A serious dog attack is one that includes biting and scratching that causes significant traumatic injury, such as deep cuts, tearing, fractures or more. A serious attack by a dog can also cause significant emotional and psychological injury.
The CDC reports that about 885,000 dog bite victims very year – or 20 percent of all of those who are bitten by dogs – require medical attention for their injuries.
The most common victims are:
Dogs most often bite a person’s arm, hand, leg, foot, head or neck, according to the CDC. Common injuries in dog attacks include:
DogsBite.org, a nonprofit, public education website about dangerous dog breeds, reports that serious dog attacks can result in acute injuries that can require $250,000 to $1 million in specialized medical care.
The CDC states that about 27,000 dog bite victims every year undergo reconstructive surgery. This may include skin grafting, tissue expansion and scar diminishment. A victim may require multiple procedures over several years.
Dog bite victims may seek compensation to cover their:
Claims can be made against the dog owner and, possibly, a third party if that party’s negligence caused the injury.
People who have been seriously injured by an attacking dog deserve compensation and should not be reluctant to seek it through civil legal action – it will not come out of a friend or neighbor’s pocket. The compensation recovered in a dog bite claim almost always come from the dog owner’s insurance, such as homeowners’ insurance or business liability insurance.
The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance report that dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013 and resulted in more than $483 million in compensation for victims. The average payment for dog bite claims was $27,862.
An experienced lawyer can investigate your dog bite case to determine whether the dog’s owner is liable and calculate the compensation you may be due for your injuries.
Many claims can be settled though negotiations with the dog owner’s insurance company. If a proper settlement agreement cannot be reached, we would be ready to pursue appropriate compensation for you in court.
You can act to help yourself, a loved one or a friend who has been injured by a dog bite. Here are some steps you should try to follow:
Most cities require pets to be properly restrained and supervised. So if a dog escapes from its owner’s property and attacks someone, the owner is typically held responsible for any resulting injuries. You should contact an attorney to discuss the details of your son’s attack, and learn more about the appropriate next steps toward legal action.
Although there is evidence that dog attacks occur more frequently among more “aggressive” breeds, the law does not recognize any difference among breeds when determining whether the owner was at fault in a dog bite case. Insurance companies do – and they charge higher insurance premiums to homeowners who have certain types of dogs – but legally, the same proof of liability is required for a bite inflicted by any dog.
Yes and no. Before a dog owner can be held legally responsible for a bite on his own premises, many states require proof that the dog’s owner knew his or her animal was vicious and likely to attack.
First, seek medical attention immediately. Bites, whether big or small, require prompt medical treatment – even if you don’t think you’ll need stitches, there may be a risk of infection. Second, document your injuries by photographing the wound, writing down the details of the attack and requesting copies of any medical records. If you are contacted by the owner or his/her insurance company, do not sign or provide an official statement. Consult an attorney with experience in animal attack injuries, who can provide advice on any legal action and appropriate next steps.
When you don’t know the animal that attacked you, an experienced attorney may be helpful in locating its owner. In serious cases, a DNA sample may be necessary to establish the identity of the dog, and an attorney can initiate that procedure and deal with the appropriate law enforcement officials.
There is a statue of limitations on dog bite injury claims just as with any type of personal injury case, so the better course of action is to contact an attorney now. He or she can advise you on your legal rights, and can help to gather pertinent information while your condition is being evaluated.
Many dog bite victims do not foresee the need for future plastic surgery as a result of their wounds – but the injuries sustained in a dog attack often create significant scarring. If a report from a credible plastic surgeon is not submitted before damages are awarded, the victim is often left paying for very expensive surgical procedures out-of-pocket, as most health insurance companies will consider these to be “cosmetic.” Consulting with a plastic surgeon now will benefit you in the long run – and help you to make informed decisions about damages and legal action.
Writing a letter to your neighborhood association is an excellent idea – and having the communication come from an experienced attorney can make this step much more effective. A letter from a law firm will convey the seriousness of what happened to you – and make your neighborhood association more likely to take action and create a stronger sense of awareness within your community of the potential hazard.
An experienced attorney can help identify the animal`s owners and establish if the dog has a history of attacks by conducting neighborhood investigations and reviewing veterinary records. This information is necessary for your safety regardless of whether you wish to file a claim. If you suffered serious injuries, an attorney can also find medical experts to thoroughly review your treatment and determine if and what type of plastic surgery or other future treatment steps might be necessary. Having an experienced lawyer will help you to decide if legal action is required, and what type of damages might be appropriate for your case – remember, just because you hire an attorney, you don’t have to bring a lawsuit – but when you are recovering from a traumatic attack, it helps to understand your options.
Reporting the attack will not automatically result in the dog`s demise. The court can review the facts of your attack as well as any other activities to determine if the animal is “potentially dangerous” or “vicious”. This determination will help guide what happens to the animal – the owner may be required to build a fence or pen to keep it restrained. An experienced attorney will not take any action you haven`t requested, so simply hiring a lawyer does not in any way make it more likely that the dog will be put down – an attorney will simply help see that your rights are protected.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury or other animal attack that caused serious injury or scarring, you have rights that deserve to be protected. Contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. without delay and schedule a free consultation.
We will provide a team of legal professionals, medical experts and investigators who are dedicated to your case. We can help you make informed decisions about your legal options. We will work hard to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
TALK TO AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY