Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the US. The resulting injuries can be severe and may have lasting consequences.
If this has happened to you, you may be wondering, “do I need a dog bite injury attorney?”
When dealing with a dog bite claim in Illinois, it is wise to consult an experienced lawyer.
Read on to learn more about dog bite laws in Illinois and why you need an injury lawyer for a dog bite.
What is the Dog Bite Law in Illinois?
Understanding Illinois dog bite law is the first step in learning how a lawyer can assist you with a dog bite case.
Dog bite injuries are covered explicitly under Illinois law. 510 ILCS 5/16 indicates that the owner of an animal that attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person that is “peacefully conducting themselves in any place where they may lawfully be” is liable for all damages inflicted on the victim.
In Illinois, it does not matter if the dog belongs to the owner or not. So, someone keeping a dog on behalf of its owner that has the dog on their property can be held liable.
This statute is “strict liability,” meaning the victim does not have to prove negligence, like in other personal injury cases. The dog owner is still liable for the injured person’s medical bills and other damages, even if they took all reasonable precautions before the attack.
Despite this, Illinois’s dog bite statute requires that the attack was “without provocation.” So, if the injured person provoked the dog right before the attack, the dog owner might not be liable.
Illinois’ dog bite statute also requires the victim to have been “lawfully” on the property at the time of the injury. If an owner can prove that the victim was trespassing at the time of the injury, then they might not be liable for the claim.
Which Dog Breeds Attack People?
Dogs of all different sizes and breeds are capable of attacking people. However, some breeds are more likely to cause injuries when they attack than others. Some of the dog breeds that commonly injure people include:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Bull Mastiff
- Australian Shepherd
Other factors could also impact the severity of a dog attack. For example, the breed and size of the dog could affect the extent of damage the animal could inflict, as bigger breeds often have stronger jaws and larger teeth.
Additionally, the age and size of the person being attacked could play a significant role in the severity of the attack, as children can suffer catastrophic harm from a canine bite.
What Should I Do if a Dog Bites Me?
Dog bites can range from minor injuries to ones that could cause death. It’s important to take any bite from a dog seriously as it could spread serious infections, such as rabies. The most common types of dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Psychological trauma
- Broken bones
The aftermath of a dog bite can be confusing and frustrating. You might wonder what you need to do first. If a dog has attacked you, follow these steps:
Call the police and ask for emergency medical assistance if a dog has bitten you. Calling 911 ensures you get proper medical attention as soon as possible.
If possible, take some pictures of the scene where the bite occurred. Photos from the scene of the incident could be used as evidence in your personal injury claim.
You should also try to get information from the dog owner and any witnesses that saw what happened. It’s much easier to collect this information now than it is to do so down the road.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer
Then contact Prime Law Group, a personal injury law firm with lawyers offering years of experience with dog bites. You can rely on us to help you navigate the world of insurance claims and to work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome.
Why Should I Hire Dog Bite Attorneys to Handle My Case?
There are several reasons why you should seek legal representation from a dog bite injury attorney instead of handling the claim alone. If someone else’s dog attacks you in Illinois, you may be eligible for compensation. Contacting a skilled injury attorney immediately after the attack could benefit your personal injury case.
A dog bite injury attorney in Illinois could help you in the following ways:
- Communicate with insurers on your behalf
- Collect eyewitness statements
- Arrange for the collection of evidence
- Examine the dog’s past
- Compile information with the help of experts
- Demonstrate negligence on the part of the dog owner before the attack took place
Having a lawyer will make the insurance companies take you more seriously. Insurance companies will know you plan on pursuing a fair settlement. Hence, they might offer one sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, people without lawyers rarely have all their costs covered. For instance, dog bites can result in thousands of dollars of medical expenses.
Additionally, you may have missed work or even lost your job. Many victims suffer from emotional trauma for years to come.
A person catastrophically injured by a dog attack in Illinois may be able to recover for both economic and non-economic damages with a dedicated lawyer’s assistance. Economic damage refers to financial losses, such as bills for medical treatments and lost wages from time spent out of work.
However, a violent dog bite can also have emotional and psychological effects, including PTSD and a long-lasting fear of dogs. These damages, as well as things like loss of enjoyment of life, physical pain, and loss of consortium, may be factored into a settlement as non-economic damages.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Once we identify the insurance company, we will begin negotiating to reach a fair settlement on your behalf. Dealing with an insurance company that does not have your best interests in mind can be overwhelming and stressful for dog bite victims. But, we are not afraid of going head-to-head with an aggressive insurance adjuster.
Insurers don’t make the claims process easy. Often, they resort to tactics such as:
- Making telephone calls and using everything you say against you
- Dismissing or doubting the extent of your injuries
- Making you feel that the first lowball offer is your only option
- Assuring you that a lawyer is not necessary
- Asking you for a recorded statement
Insurers know what they are doing. They will do everything they can to reduce your payment.
However, dog bite lawyers also know how to handle these cases. You can rely on an attorney to protect your rights throughout the process.
Dog bite lawyers know how to negotiate with insurance companies, and they have excellent negotiation skills. Even if an owner of a dog or its insurance provider offers you a less-than-reasonable settlement for the sake of paying out as little as possible, that does not mean you have to accept it.
We know all of the tricks that insurance adjusters use to lower the value of your claim or reject it altogether. But, we won’t let them get away with these sneaky tactics. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve while you focus solely on recovering from your dog bite wound.
Taking the Case to Court
Through a team of experts at your disposal, a dog bite lawyer can provide you with a wealth of valuable resources. Research and investigations by the other members of the legal team will determine whether the dog owner was negligent.
A team approach is usually necessary when complex legal matters are involved. When you have this support, you are never alone.
If the insurance company fails to make a fair offer, our attorneys will end the negotiations and take your case to court. We will present a strong case that clearly shows that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. We will not back down until we have successfully secured full compensation on your behalf.
Call a Dog Bite Injury Attorney in Illinois
Dog attacks are devastating, physically and mentally, and you may feel the effects of one for a lifetime. Receiving compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages requires knowledge of Illinois’s complicated laws concerning dog attacks.
If you have been attacked by someone else’s animal, a dog bite injury attorney could help you navigate an injury case and recover damages. Call today to schedule a free, confidential personal injury consultation.