Naperville Dog Bites & Animal Attacks Lawyers
A study by the CDC shows that more than 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites every year. Injuries arising from dog or animal bites are likely to cause disfigurement and permanent scarring along with psychological and emotional trauma. Victims of animal attacks may require reconstructive or plastic surgery to correct disfigurement and these bills can have a toll on their finances. A person who sustains a dog bite or is attacked by animal can be able to recover damages from the owner of the pet/animal. The following web page will discuss what to do following a dog bite, determining liability, possible defenses, and what compensation is available for victims of dog bites.
Steps to Follow after a Dog Bite/Animal Attack
After a dog bite or animal attack, you should immediately see a doctor. If left untreated animal bites can result in serious injuries, infections such as rabies, or even death if the animal had a life threatening disease. After you have sought medical attention, you should consult an attorney. Your lawyer will determine whether you have a valid legal claim and the damages you can recover. Your attorney will gather all the necessary information including the personal details of the owner, and the statements of any witnesses present during the incidence. With this information, your lawyer may seek to reach a settlement with the owner of the dog/animal but if this fails, they may choose to file a claim in court.
Liability for Dog/Animal Bites
Many states impose “strict liability” on the owners of dogs/animals that attack others. Under this concept, an owner is held liable for a dog bite or animal attack, regardless of the owner’s attempts to protect the public from an attack. According to this concept, even though the owner was not aware of the danger that their animal posed, if it bites or attacks a person, they will still be held liable for the incident.
In other states, the only time that the owner is held liable for a dog/animal attack is if they knew, or had reason to be aware of the animal’s dangerous propensities. However, determining if an owner is aware of the dangerous tendencies of an animal is a difficult undertaking. The pertinent question is whether one is only supposed to know if a particular animal is harmful or also whether a particular animal species has a potential to be harmful. For instance, if a person keeps a pit bull, should the owner know that pit bulls have a potential for harm, or whether their particular pet is harmful?
Other Responsible Parties
The liability for animal attacks is not limited to animal owners. There are cases where people apart from animal owners may be held responsible for animal bites:
Property Owner: If a property owner allows an animal into their premises, they may be held liable for attacks that occur within their property
Landlords: If the landlord of residential property knew or had reason to know that one of their tenant’s kept a dangerous pet, the landlord can in this case be found liable for the harmful actions of the animal.
Animal Keepers: Anyone charged with the custody or care of the offensive animal could is deemed responsible for the animal’s actions. For example, animal sitters or those who provide shelter for animals may be held liable for animals that attack people on their watch
Parents: If a minor owns the pet that is involved in an offensive act, the injured party can sue the minor’s parents regardless of whether they were involved with the custody or whereabouts of the animal
Defenses for Dog Bites/Animal Attacks
The owner may be protected in cases where they posted adequate warning regarding the animal’s dangerous attributes, and attempted to keep the pet from the public. Anyone injured by the animal after ignoring the danger signs may not succeed in recovering damages from the owner. The injured party’s conduct is called contributory negligence. One is found to be contributory negligent when they do not exercise reasonable care for their own safety. For example, if a person jumps a property owner’s fence and encounters their dog, they are obviously liable for their injuries since dogs are violent towards intruders. In such cases, one may not receive any compensation for their injuries. However, if one jumps over a fence after ignoring a “beware of dogs” sign, the owner may not be held liable for any amount of damages. An animal owner may also defend themselves by saying the injured party provoked their pet. For example, if one makes threatening gestures and an animal attacks them, the owner cannot be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
A dog owner may also defend themselves under the one bite rule. According to this rule, an owner cannot be held liable for a dog that has no history of violent behavior. This clearly shows that they had no reason to believe that their pet was dangerous.
Compensation for Dog Bites/Animal Attacks
Compensation for dog bites/animal attacks depends on the seriousness of a person’s injuries. Some of the damages you are likely to claim include:
Pain and suffering
In some cases, you may claim punitive damages to punish the owner for their negligence. However, to get punitive damages, you need to show that the liable party’s actions were more than negligent. Recklessness and intentional behavior are examples of conduct that qualify for punitive damages. For example, a dog owner who allows their pet to roam publicly knowing that it is dangerous may be required to pay punitive damages if such reckless behavior causes a person to be injured. If you are a victim of a dog or animal attack, you need to take legal action against those liable for the whereabouts of the animal. Apart from the dog owner, you can still sue those charged with caring for the animal. Dog or animal attacks can cause serious physical scars and could even lead to infectious diseases. If you have sustained injuries from an animal attack, seek the counsel of a Naperville dog bites and animal attack attorney to get justice.