Injured by a dog bite in Waukegan? You may be eligible to seek compensation with the aid of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Dogs are such a major part of the American household, with 98% of dog owners considering their pets as family members. However, no matter how human they seem, dogs still have wild instincts that can potentially cause serious harm. Some dogs can get aggressive, even when unprovoked. These aggressive dogs can pose safety threats to adults and children alike.
Every year, an estimated 4.5 million dog bites happen in the United States. Some of these dog bites are minor, but some can cause serious physical harm. In instances where a person is seriously injured because of a dog bite, they can seek financial compensation from the dog’s owner.
Dog Bite Laws in Waukegan
Illinois uses a legal concept known as strict liability when it comes to a dog attacking a human and other injuries caused by animals. This means that the owner of a dog is liable for any injuries that they cause, regardless of whether or not they knew the animal had aggressive tendencies. Strict liability is also applied for other kinds of injuries caused by dogs. For example, if a person is knocked down by a dog. The only possible defense is if the victim did something to provoke the attack (for example, kicking a dog).
In Waukegan, dog owners are required to notify local animal control of a dog bite within 24 hours of the incident. Within that 24-hour period, the dog has to be taken into confinement for a 10-day observation period. This is so a veterinarian can determine whether the dog is rabid. However, the confinement can take place in the dog owner’s home if a veterinarian confirms that the dog has been sufficiently vaccinated. Under those circumstances, the owner must bring the dog to a veterinarian to be evaluated. The county health department will euthanize dogs that have rabies.
The state of Illinois restricts how long someone has to file a claim. Generally, a dog bite victim is required to seek compensation within two years of the incident. However, there can both shorter and longer exceptions to this rule, so it is best to consult with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Medical Complications Associated with Dog Bites
Dog bites are not only painful. They can also cause complications like infections, broken bones, scarring, and in some cases, rabies.
Approximately 10% to 15% of dog bites lead to infection. Bacteria in the bloodstream may cause sepsis, an inflammatory response that can turn fatal between 24 and 72 hours. Many sepsis survivors live with chronic conditions like fatigue, joint pain, and a weakened immune system. The lingering effects take a personal toll. And the long-term cost of care is a burden for dog bite victims suffering from these effects.
Dogs can bite deeply and strongly enough to cause broken bones and fractures, as well as permanent nerve damage around the site of the bite. This can cause its own complications, such as loss of mobility or chronic pain.
Disfigurement is another unfortunate possibility after a dog bite. Facial scars can be especially devastating to a victim and cause a lifetime of pain and hardship. Even scars that are reversible can cause problems for the victim; reconstructive surgeries can be expensive and traumatic.
Common Dog Breeds that Cause Bite Injuries
If you were to look at statistics, you might notice that small dogs tend to bite just as much as the big ones. But it is the big dogs that are capable of serious bite injuries and maulings.
The number of fatal pitbull attacks has increased by 670% since 1999. And although the CDC no longer collects breed-specific information about dog attacks, Pit Bulls were responsible for over 60% of all dog attacks when records were kept. Rottweilers and German Shepherds often make up the second- and third-largest percentages.
Other common breeds that are reported for biting or attacking include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and mixed breeds.
Responsibilities as a Dog Owner to Prevent Injury
Pet owners are responsible for protecting other people from their pets. This is most commonly applied to dogs, but can include other dangerous pets too. In Waukegan and all of Illinois, a dog cannot be in public without a leash or other reliable method of restraint.
Dog owners must also prevent their pets from escaping their own private property to prevent dogs from getting loose and potentially hurting an unsuspecting victim. A vicious dog must be enclosed by at least six feet of fence or some other form of structural barrier.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
According to Illinois law, dog owners are fully liable for injuries that happen due to unprovoked attacks. The dog owner’s home insurance or renter’s insurance usually covers damages caused by dog bites that take place on the owner’s premises. This is a concept that falls under the doctrine of premises liability. However, many dog owners do not have coverage. In this situation, it can be very difficult to pursue a financial recovery. Further, many insurance policies exclude dog bites.
Even when the right insurance policies are in place, insurance companies are reluctant to pay for dog bites. They can try to reframe the facts of the attack to downplay your injuries or completely deny their policyholder’s negligence. Avoiding dealing with the insurance company directly can save you from an unfair outcome. A Waukegan dog bite lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to help make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for your injury.
Receiving Compensation for Your Damages
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you may be able to be reimbursed for any current and future medical expenses you accrue and for any pain and suffering you may have experienced. In 2018, close to 27,000 patients required reconstructive surgery because of a dog bite. In addition to surgery, the cost of doctors’ appointments, medications, and physical therapy can add up in no time.
It is helpful to document these injuries as soon as they arise. Take photos the day of the incident and throughout your recovery. Keep any records you receive as you go through treatment. Your attorney will want a copy of any and all paperwork. The bigger your injuries are, the more you will be entitled to collect in compensation.
How Can a Waukegan Dog Bite Lawyer Help?
If you or a loved one are suffering from injuries due to a dog bite or animal attack, speak to Abels & Annes for a free case evaluation. Our dedicated attorneys will help to prove the dog owner’s negligence and demonstrate the severity of your injuries so that you can receive the most compensation possible. Call us at 855-529-2442 or contact us online for your free initial case evaluation.
Abels & Annes, P.C. (Waukegan Office)
404 W Water St Suite 100
Waukegan, IL 60085