Pet ownership is both a privilege and a responsibility. As much as pets can be a joy for your family or provide companionship, they can also be a danger to those in your community. Pets can behave irrationally; sometimes they feel challenged during seemingly innocent encounters. When a dog perceives danger, whether real or imagined, they attack. When pet owners raise aggressive dogs, fail to properly discipline their dogs, or negligently raise their dogs, other people pay the price. Even responsible dog owners can find their dogs acting in a threatening manner. Here are some helpful tips about dog bite cases:
Dog bite statutes in Illinois allow the victim of a dog bite to sue the “owner” of the dog. Although the word “owner” normally means the person who bought the dog, the statute has a more liberal view. Under Illinois law an “owner” of a dog is “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.” (510 ILCS 5/2.16.)
In Illinois a dog bite case requesting damages must begin with a physical injury. This means you can recover for your medical bills, treatment, and therapy so long as they are connected to the actual injury. Once you have demonstrated that you have an injury, you can add on other damages. These may include emotional distress or trauma that you suffer from the physical attack or other psychological damage you have suffered as a result.
Illinois uses “strict liability” in dog bite cases. This means that it is not a defense for an owner to claim that they did not have notice of their dog’s aggressive behaviors. If you are the owner of a dog, and that dog attacks someone and causes injury, you are liable. The only available defenses for a dog owner are to demonstrate that the victim was trespassing or that the victim provoked the dog and caused the dog to attack them. A trespasser does not have a right to claim that the dog attacked them for no reason. Similarly, someone who teases or provokes a dog cannot then claim that the dog was at fault for its behavior.
In general, it is never a good idea to provoke a dog. Dogs often show signs of danger before they attack. This can be in the form of hair raised along their backs, growling or barking, or staring in an aggressive manner. If a dog behaves this way, you should not approach them or try to calm them, but slowly try to back away. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you are entitled to compensation from the owner of that dog. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today for a free consultation.