Dog Bites Can Cause Serious Injuries
Every year, thousands of pets find forever homes in Illinois. However, some of these animals may not be suitable as pets and can pose safety threats to children and local communities. This can result in animal attacks, and the need to consult with a Chicago dog bite lawyer.
If you or a family member were attacked by a dog or another domestic animal that resulted in injury, you could be eligible for compensation. Owners are required to take certain steps to keep others safe from their pets. When a pet owner fails to do this, they could be held liable for your damages.
How Much is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
We know that most people want to know what their dog bite case is worth. Of course, this is a legitimate concern. Outcomes in civil lawsuits of any kind depend heavily on the facts of the case, the amount of insurance coverage available, and the severity of injuries suffered by the victim. However, certain statistics can help you understand how much recovery could be available in a dog bite lawsuit. Of course, your attorney can help you to understand how your particular case might work out.
- The average settlement for a dog bite lawsuit in Illinois is about $100,000.
- The median settlement for dog attacks ranges between $25,000 and $35,000.
- Nearly 80% of dog bit cases recover under $100,000, and 4% of all dog bit cases recover more than $1,000,000.
- In Cook County, where Chicago is located, 68% of dog bite cases recovered under $100,000, and 11% of cases recovered more than $1,000,000.
How do Dog Bites Happen?
Around 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Of these dog bites, 1 out of 5 of them become infected leading to complications. In addition to infections, dog bites can also lead to serious damage that requires surgery. In 2018 alone, nearly 27,000 people had to have reconstructive surgery because of dog bite attacks.
A dog attack can happen for any reason, but the most common is a knee-jerk reaction to something. When a dog is under stress, their initial response is to defend themselves from the perceived threat. The dog will do anything to protect its territory and its family.
Dogs tend to bite or nip during playtime, which is common when other dogs play together. When humans and dogs play together, a slight nip can be painful. Dogs do not generally become aggressive on their own. A docile dog can become an aggressive dog in the right circumstances.
Some examples of why dog bite incidents happen are:
- Territory: Dogs are all about their territory, and when a person enters their home, their first reaction is to attack and keep the family safe. They can also be very possessive of their food and toys, so it is best not to disturb them.
- Insufficient training: When dogs have no experience around other humans or animals, they can become aggressive. Dogs do not know how to handle new situations and become fearful. Training and socialization can change this behavior.
- Illness: When a dog is sick or injured, it wants to be left alone and is on high alert. The dog will snap at anyone who comes near it for fear that the person will cause further injury.
- Lack of supervision: When a dog is left alone, and there is no one to supervise them, they are likely to do as they please. If they are accustomed to being in the backyard, the moment their owners turn their back, they will lash out at anyone who comes too close.
- Aggressive owners: Most pet owners love their animals and treat them with care. However, some dog owners will abuse their pets or are aggressive towards them. The dog will often mimic the behavior because they live in constant fear. Any human that approaches is a danger to them.
Many reasons exist for a dog becoming aggressive and attacking a person, but these are just a few. You cannot predict when a dog will bite you, so you should remain cautious of all dogs.
Common Complications Associated with Injuries From Dog Attacks
The most common complication that doctors see from a dog bite injury is infection. However, there are many other kinds of complications that can arise from dog bite injuries. An injury that has further complications tends to be more expensive, as the patient will have to pay for further medical treatment and may have to take even more time off from work to recover from their injuries.
Common diseases and infections that can occur after a dog bite injuries include:
- Rabies: If the dog that bites you has rabies, they can transfer it to you through their saliva. Rabies contracted from dogs is rare in the United States, but it does happen. If a human contracts rabies, it can be fatal. While rabies can be treated, the chances of survival are slim. In this case, a surviving relative would want to file a wrongful death case for the death of their loved one.
- Capnocytophaga: Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria that lives in the mouths of both cats and dogs. This type of bacteria doesn't make the dogs sick. However, if spread to humans, it can cause illness, specifically sepsis. This is especially likely for people with weakened immune systems. It can be transmitted through bites, scratches, and even close contact with the infected dog.
- Pasteurella: Pasteurella is the most common bacteria that causes infected dog bites. It can cause pain, redness, and swelling at the site of the bite.
- MRSA: MRSA is a deadly form of bacteria that is resistant to multiple different strains of antibiotics. It can be hard to get rid of and can cause serious problems if contracted multiple times.
- Tetanus: If you haven't received a tetanus shot, this type of bacteria can cause paralysis. After being bitten by a dog, it's important to receive a vaccination to prevent the development of further complications.
- Amputation: Amputation, while not a disease, can also be a result of a dog bite infection. Some infections may cause tissue death at the site of the infection and amputation may be the only solution to preventing the spread of the infection to the rest of the body.
Many dog bites are complication-free and don't require medical attention. But when they do, and complications arise, they can cause a serious financial strain on the victim. Many dog bite victims do suffer complications, which can mean longer hospital stays, more treatment, an overall higher cost, and more pain and suffering for the victim.
While unusual, they are a real risk, and you must look for:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- A hot wound
- Redness, swelling, and pain around the wound
If you experience any of the symptoms of complications, you will need immediate medical attention because of an underlying issue.
Who is Accountable for a Dog Bite Injury?
Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, if you sustain an injury in an attack by a dog or other animal, you may have a claim against the dog's owner.
These types of injuries can lead to:
- Costly medical attention, sometimes requiring surgery
- Prescription pain medication
- Lost income while recovering
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
Illinois dog bite laws hold animal owners strictly liable if their pet attacks another person unless the attack was provoked. A dog attack victim does not need to show that the owner was aware of the animal's dangerous behavior.
Illinois law extends to hold those who harbor animals liable for any injuries the animal causes. This means that if there is an attack by a dog or other animal while the dog is under the control of someone other than the owner, you may have a claim. A dog walker, groomer, sitter, veterinarian, or any other person in control of a dog at the time of an attack can be liable for your injuries.
Will the dog owner take responsibility?
While some pet wonders will take full responsibility for their dog's actions, some will try to shift the blame and deny your claim. The most common defense dog owners use is that the injury victim provoked the dog, which is why they suffered an injury. Provocation is a common defense because that is the only way a dog bite victim will be unable to recover compensation.
Under Chicago law, provocation means:
- Teasing the dog
- Abusing a dog
- Attacking the dog
- Attacking the dog’s owner
- Throwing items at the dog
Before you run for the hills, remember these are just hearsay. The dog owner cannot use this defense without proof that you provoked the dog. When the authorities find a dog extremely dangerous or a threat to the general public, they can demand that animal control remove the dog from the owner. Responsible dog owners must ensure they train their dogs and keep them on a leash in public spaces.
Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Case
Proving liability in a dog bite case is a multi-step process. First, you must be able to prove who owned the dog. Then, the victim must show that they had a right to be in the location where the attack took place. And finally, that the victim did not provoke the attack.
Further, because Illinois does hold animal owners strictly liable for their pet attacks, you will not need to prove that the owner knew their dog was dangerous. You will only need to prove the steps listed above.
How do I recover compensation?
The critical element in a dog bite claim is determining liability. The term liability is synonymous with responsibility. Whoever is responsible for the dog attack will also be liable for any damages the dog causes. If the owner is not present for the attack, but the dog was under the supervision of another entity, such as a relative or friend, the dog's guardian at the time will be liable for the injuries the dog causes.
Where and why the dog bite happened are also critical to your case. You can file a claim if you are in a public space around Chicago and did not provoke the animal. However, if the attack was on private property and the dog reacted to danger, the legal lines would blur. Be truthful with your Chicago dog bite lawyer to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your claim.
Once we build your case, we will begin calculating your losses and compile a demand package. Each case we take is unique and deserves personal attention, so the results will vary.
Most dog bite injury claims will garner:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
- Lost wages
- Current and future medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Emergency medical care
- Punitive damages for intentional or egregious actions
It is common to wonder how the dog owner will pay these damages. In most dog bite claims, the dog owner is unlikely to pay for your costs out of pocket, but their homeowner's insurance policy will bear the responsibility of paying for your damages. If the dog owner doesn't have homeowners insurance, they can use their renters' insurance policy. These insurance policies are not only for incidents on a person's property.
You can still secure payment for your injuries when the dog bite occurs elsewhere in the city. However, you will need to consult with our Chicago dog bite attorneys to ensure you secure this critical compensation.
There are many different damages that you can receive compensation for in a dog bite case. When it comes to economic damages, you may recover damages for any medical bills that you incurred that were directly related to your injuries. This includes any hospital visits, surgical costs, physical therapy, prescriptions, or ambulance costs that you were billed for. Dog bite victims can also receive compensation for any wages they lost while they were out of work and even any wages they may lose in the future because of their injury.
Non-economic damages are losses or injuries that are suffered by the victim of a dog bite that cannot be defined in strictly monetary terms. Non-economic damages include damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and disfigurement.
Abels & Annes Dog Bite Settlements
The following are just a few of our dog bite settlements:
- $250,000 for a client who injured his shoulder when, while being chased by a large dog, he jumped over a fence and hit the ground hard.
- $112,000 for a dog bite victim who was injured by a loose dog, causing a fracture and an infection to her wrist. She required surgical repair of the broken wrist.
- $86,000 for a boy in Lake County, Illinois, who was bitten by a small dog in the face. He has minor scarring that has been fading over time.
- $38,500 for a woman who was helping her neighbor catch a loose dog when the pet bit her arm, resulting in three tooth puncture wounds and a trip to the emergency room.
Our Chicago dog attack attorneys currently have several cases pending at this time.
Injured in a Chicago Dog Attack?
If you or a family member suffers an injury in a dog or other animal attack, contact the police and local animal control immediately. Also, seek appropriate medical attention, as some animals carry diseases such as rabies. Further, try to write down any ownership information from the animal's tags, but only if you can do so safely.
After our Chicago dog bite lawyers start to work on your claim, one of the first obstacles in this type of case is determining whether the animal owner has insurance for their pet. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is no.
If you sustain serious injury in an animal attack, you may need to see a plastic surgeon for an evaluation. This is to determine if the scars are permanent and if surgery would be necessary or helpful, and also to determine the approximate cost of surgery to fix dog bite injuries.
Illinois law favors dog bite claimants. However, making an effective injury claim requires hands-on assistance from a proven, aggressive, and thorough dog bite attorney in Chicago. At Abels & Annes, P.C., our attorneys work on many types of accident and personal injury cases. If we take your case, we determine the most strategic way to move your claim forward. An attorney is standing by now to take your call at (312) 924-7575. We offer free consultations, and there is no fee unless you win your case.