Dogs are man’s best friend—this is a common sentiment. Nevertheless, dogs are animals, and they sometimes bite people. Furthermore, these bites can place people in extreme danger. In fact, the statistics related to dog bites are sobering. While dogs can serve as lovely companions, always take care when it comes to dogs that you aren’t familiar with—and teach your children to do the same.
Dog Bites and Statistics
Dogsbite.org shares statistics related to dog bites from a variety of sources:
- In 2016, dogs attacked more than 6,750 postal workers, which represents 200 more attacks than in 2015. Los Angeles had the most attacks.
- About 4.5 million dog bites take place every year in the United States, and nearly 20 percent of them become infected.
- In 2015, more than 28,000 persons needed reconstructive surgery because of dog bites.
- From 1993 to 2008, dog-bite related hospitalizations increased by 86 percent.
- Pit bulls are the breed that’s most closely associated with dangerous bites and injuries.
- In fact, in 2016, pit bulls were responsible for 71 percent of all deaths related to dog bites, which is a bit more than 7 times the number of deaths related to the second-ranked breed.
There’s no way around it, these statistics are startling—and stay away from pit bulls. If someone else’s dog attacked you or your child, you need legal counsel. Dog bites are dangerous and can lead to serious infections that necessitate extensive medical treatments. The legal team at Abels & Annes in Chicago understands the difficulty these situations can present, and we’re here to help guide your claim toward its most positive resolution.
Why Dogs Bite
Why do dogs bite in the first place? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) takes a close look at this question and offers several indicators:
- Stress – When a dog fears that someone is invading its territory, it may experience elevated stress levels that cause it to bite the person.
- Illness – If a dog is ill—much like a human—it may become more irritable and, thus, more prone to biting.
- Fear – A dog that is afraid or startled may lash out—for example, if a dog fears that its bed, puppies, owner, food, or toy is being threatened.
- Playfulness – Dogs are playful, and sometimes their playfulness includes rolling around and nipping at other dogs—or at people who play with them.
Regardless of why the dog may have bitten you, you have the right to move through your day unmolested by other people’s dogs.
Dog Bite Injuries
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds that dog bites are often extremely serious and can lead to dangerous injuries that require significant medical treatments. Furthermore, according to the AHRQ, of all the injuries caused by dog attacks, subcutaneous tissue infections (of the skin) are by far the most common. The next most common injuries are open wounds on the extremities; open wounds of the head, neck, and trunk; fractures to the upper limbs; other connective tissue diseases; infective arthritis and osteomyelitis; septicemia (an infection of the bloodstream); crushing injuries (internal injuries); and fractures to the lower limbs.
In other words, various infections are extremely common to dog bites. If you sustained a dog bite, seek immediate medical attention.
Dog Bite Claims in Illinois
Several states adopt a one-bite rule, which means that the dog-bite victim must show that the dog’s owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog had a propensity for danger. Illinois, however, is not one of these states.
In Illinois, a law that’s based on strict liability controls dog bite claims. The statute states that “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
What this means is that you don’t need to show that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog might bite someone. Instead, you must establish three elements to make a successful Illinois dog bite claim:
- That the dog attacked you, attempted to attack you, or otherwise injured you
- That you had a lawful right to be in the place where you were attacked (that you weren’t trespassing, for example)
Chicago’s Dangerous Dog Ordinance
In addition, Chicago has an Animal Care and Control Ordinance, the goal of which in part is to keep dangerous dogs away from the unsuspecting public and to decrease the number of serious dog bites. This ordinance defines a dangerous animal as one that bites, inflicts injury, kills, or otherwise attacks a person or domestic animal without provocation on any public or private property; one that chases a person in apparent attack mode more than once and without provocation; or one that has been trained to fight or serve as a guard dog.
If an animal control officer determines that the dog is indeed dangerous (and has already caused serious injury or death to a person or another domestic animal), the city may euthanize the dog. Alternatively (in less serious cases), city may force the dog’s owner to purchase a dangerous animal license and carry significant liability insurance.
If an Attacking Dog Injured You, Contact a Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer Today
A dog attack is terrifying. If you or your loved one was attacked, you need legal counsel. The legal team at Abels & Annes understands the difficulties these situations can present, and we’re committed to helping you navigate your claim toward just resolution. Dog bites are serious, and we’re here to help—so please contact us online or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.