Even though they are said to be “man's best friend,” dog bites and dog attacks in Illinois are fairly common. The experience alone can be traumatizing even when the injury itself may not be significant. Victims who have been hurt deserve to be fully compensated for their injuries, including any pain and suffering.
At Serpico, Petrosino, DiPiero & O'Shea, Ltd., our attorneys will work hard to make sure you get full and fair compensation. We know the law. We know the community. We know how to deal with insurance companies and other potentially liable parties. Contact us at (312) 207-0000 to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how we will help you during this traumatic time.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur every single year. Those bites, however, come in a wide variety of severities, with only about one in five – 885,000 of them – requiring medical attention. Fatalities from dog bites are rare, but do occur occasionally.
Why Do Dogs Bite People and Who Is At Fault?
Dog owners are typically at fault for their dog's behavior. As such, dog owners are typically liable for any injuries caused by their dogs. Generally, there are two legal theories that help courts determine when a person is at fault or legally liable for a dog attack and, thus, must pay damages: strict liability and one-bite rule.
- Strict Liability. This theory suggests that the dog owner is always liable for an attack on a person by their dog. This is true even when the owner tries to prevent or takes measures to mitigate dog bites or attacks. The dog owner may defend against the plaintiff if they can prove the plaintiff somehow provoked the dog into the attack.
- One-Bite Rule. This theory involves prior knowledge that the owner's dog may bite or attack another person. Knowledge may include the specific breed of the dog or the personality of the dog. It also applies when the owner knows the dog has previously attacked or acted aggressively towards another dog or person. When the owner has knowledge or is aware the dog has a proclivity toward aggressive behavior, the owner must take measures to secure the dog from other people.
These theories are specific to jurisdictions and may vary according to local regulations. It is important to speak to a personal injury attorney in Illinois to confirm what laws and rules apply.
Examples of Why Dogs Bite
Dogs bite people in Illinois and elsewhere for many reasons. Some of the most common include:
- The dog is chained or otherwise in some kind of stressful situation.
- The dog is trained to attack.
- The dog feels scared or threatened or is otherwise provoked.
- The dog has experienced abuse in the past.
- The dog wants to protect itself, its guardians, or its puppies.
- The dog is ill.
Provocation and Dog Bites
It is important to note, though, that regardless of why the dog barked, you are not at fault unless you in some way provoked the dog. Provocation is pretty much any act that causes an immediate and radical change in the dog's behavior. It can include but is not limited to:
- Hitting the dog
- Trapping the dog in a small space
- Pulling on its tail, legs, ears, or fur
- Stepping on its tail
If you provoked the dog, then the other party may be able to blame you for the attack. As such, it is important to note what is not necessarily considered provocation in the event the defendant tries to claim it:
- Walking toward a dog
- Walking towards and/or addressing the owner
- Being seating and getting up to face the dog
- Reaching to pet the dog
- Playing with and petting the dog
- Feeding a dog
- Extending a hand over or through a fence
- Transporting the dog when it is injured
Provocation may be determined by the overall circumstances, and so again, that is why contacting a dog bite attorney in Illinois may be critical because the outcome of the case can turn on how the facts and circumstances are argued.
What to Do If Attacked by a Dog in Illinois
When a dog bites or attacks a person, the injury could be serious. There are a few things you will want to do to protect yourself.
- It's always important to get medical attention immediately.
- Be sure to obtain the dog owner's contact information, homeowner's or renter's insurance information, and proof of rabies vaccination.
- If there were any witnesses to the attack, make sure to collect their names and contact information, too.
- Take photos of the scene and the injury.
- Contact the police or your local animal control agency.
The most important thing if attacked or bitten by a dog is your personal safety. Take all precautions to get help as soon as possible.
Most Damaging Dog Bites by Breed
The breed may matter in terms of the severity of the dog bite. The most damaging dog bites by breed are unknown, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, because the breed of the dog causing the injury was unknown. The breeds that follow the “unknown” category for most damaging bites include:
- Pit bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German shepherds
Other dog breeds with the capability to cause severe injuries which were less likely to bite as compared to the above-listed breeds are Great Danes and Akitas. Bite severity was assessed according to wound size, tissue tearing, bone fractures, and other injuries severe enough to require facial trauma or reconstructive surgery.
Common Injuries from Dog Attacks
The injuries that victims can suffer in a dog attack can be severe and life-changing. Some of the most severe include:
- Severe lacerations, often requiring numerous stitches or sutures
- Serious infections
- Nerve damage
- Dismembered fingers
- Partial paralysis
- Chronic pain
These are just the physical symptoms that a dog bite victim has to live with. Victims frequently experience emotional distress and mental anguish from the attack as well. In some severe cases, it can even amount to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Children are the Most Vulnerable
Children are the most likely to be hurt in a dog attack, especially young children under the age of 4. These children do not understand how dangerous a dog can be. Many of them think that all dogs are friendly and may approach a strange dog to pet it without their parents or the dog's owner noticing until it is too late.
Unfortunately, these are the very victims that are most likely to suffer the worst consequences of a serious dog bite. Not only is the mental anguish of a dog attack likely to haunt them more intensely than it would an adult, but the physical injuries that a child suffers are more likely to have serious long-term repercussions on their growth and development.
Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Illinois
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from another person's dog, the owner may be held accountable for the injury and, thus, liable for compensation. At Serpico, Petrosino, DiPiero & O'Shea, Ltd., our attorneys want to make sure members of our community who have been injured or who have had, in rare circumstances, a loved one die from a dog attack are fully compensated. Contact our office at (312) 207-0000 to schedule a free initial consultation and get a better understanding of your specific dog bite injury case.