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When a Dog Bites: Can I Sue?

When a dog bites you in an attack, of the many thoughts that run through your head, the first and foremost probably regards your immediate self-defense. However, if you have sustained even minor injuries it is critical to ask the question, ‘Can I sue?’ While legal action may not be an avenue you would normally consider, collecting compensation for any medical bills, medications, and pain and suffering can make your recovery much less complicated.

The fact is that while thousands of pets find much needed homes all over the country every year, some of these animals may not be suitable as pets or are mishandled by their owners. This can create a safety threat to anyone nearby, and many individuals end up being bitten or attacked by these dogs.

A Chicago dog attack leads to $250,000 premises liability settlement

Legal representation can really get results when a dog bites. For example, the injury attorneys at Abels & Annes have recently obtained a quality settlement on behalf of a client who sustained injuries while being chased by a dog.

In July, 2009 our client left his apartment in Chicago to throw out some trash. He planned to exit the rear of his building, throw his trash in the dumpster located in the alley and then walk up the alley to a mailbox. The defendant’s home was located across the alley from our client’s apartment building.

After throwing his trash in the dumpster our client began to walk north down the alley towards Ashland Ave. He took only a few steps when he heard a menacing growl. He lifted his head and saw a large unleashed dog in the alley running at him.

Fearful of the aggressive dog, he tried to escape. He jumped on top of a garbage can and over a fence. When he landed the plaintiff heard a “pop” sound from his elbow and felt immediate excruciating pain. He had dislocated his elbow and fractured his arm.

The dog that attacked him was a large Cane Corso owned by the Defendant. Cane Corsos are large, muscular canines, and this particular pooch weighed approximately 130 pounds.

Despite the Defendant’s deposition testimony that his dog is a gentle animal, the cover sheet of the dog’s veterinary records stated that the dog had a history of being very aggressive.

Especially telling was the fact that every time Defendant brought the dog into the vet he had the dog muzzled, and had the dog immediately brought into an examination room away from other people and animals. In fact, the vet had the opinion that the dog is highly suspicious of strangers and would act aggressively towards anyone unknown.

Additionally, the Defendant testified that he adopted the dog from another veterinarian. The attorneys at Anne and Abels later learned that the other vet had a reputation of being involved in dog fighting. At his deposition the other vet denied having any involvement in selling or adopting the dog to Defendant.

The case settled after a period of litigation and a pretrial conference with a judge.

Can I sue when a dog bites?

Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, if you are injured or attacked by a dog or other animal, you may have a claim against the owner for your dog bite injuries. These types of injuries can require costly medical attention, surgery, pain medication, and cause scarring and disfigurement. Illinois law holds animal owners strictly liable if their pet attacks another person, unless the attack was provoked. If you were injured, you do not need to show that the animal’s owner was aware of the animal’s dangerous behavior.

If you or a family member is bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal:

  1. Contact the police and local animal control immediately.
  2. Seek appropriate medical attention, as some animals carry diseases such as rabies.
  3. If you are able, write down any ownership information from the animal’s tags, but only if you can do so safely.

Additionally, when a dog bites and leads you to be seriously injured, we will suggest that you be evaluated by a plastic surgeon. This is to determine if the scars are permanent, if surgery would be necessary or helpful, and also determine the approximate cost of surgery to fix dog bite injuries.

At Abels & Annes, P.C., our attorneys will tackle all types of cases and figure out the most strategic way to move your claim forward. We will evaluate you case and answer the question, ‘Can I sue?’If you or a family member has been attacked and injured by a dog or other animal, request a Free Case Consultation now.

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