Wheaton Dog Bites & Animal Attacks Lawyers
Being attacked by a dog can be a terrifying and painful experience. Along with the immediate pain, a dog attack can leave you with expensive medical bills, lifelong trauma, and scars. Every day, about 1,000 people across the country are sent to an emergency room to treat a serious dog bite with more than 28,000 people every year requiring reconstructive surgery after a dog attack. Unfortunately, children under the age of 15 account for about 60% of all dog bite victims in Wheaton but the most vulnerable group is children between 5 and 9.
If you or your child have been attacked by a dog, Illinois dog bite laws are designed to protect you and help you seek compensation from the dog owner.
Wheaton Dog Bite Laws
Under Illinois law, when a dog bites someone, the owner is virtually always found legally responsible for compensating the victim for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, and other losses. The state or the City of Wheaton may also punish the owner criminally and place sanctions on the dog.
The law also requires that the injured party legally be allowed on the location where the attack or bite occurred. This is because someone who is trespassing typically cannot sue the dog owners for a dog bite. If someone climbs a fence and ignores a warning before they are attacked, they are unlikely to recover compensation for a dog bite. A delivery person or mailman who walks to the front door, on the other hand, has a valid claim if they are attacked by a dog.
The law typically exempts children from this requirement as there is the understanding that young children don’t understand property boundaries. If a child is bitten or attacked on someone else’s property, the owner is likely still liable for the damages.
Illinois Animal Control Act
The Illinois Animal Control Act is one of several laws allowing the government to take action to protect citizens from dangerous animals. This provision allows the government to impound and destroy dogs that are found to be running at large after reasonably attempting to find and notifying the owner. This law also allows the County Administrator to deem a dog dangerous. If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner can be ordered to have the animal microchipped, pay a fine, and have the dog neutered. In some cases, the dog can also be ordered to be muzzled and accompanied by an adult in public.
When a dog has bitten or harmed someone, the government can order that the dog be put down to protect the public.
Dog Owner’s Responsibilities After a Dog Bite
Wheaton dog owners have several legal responsibilities after their dog bites someone. To begin with, the owner should ensure anyone who has been hurt by their dog receives medical attention. 911 should be called if necessary and the owners should contact Animal Control. The dog owner should also take the animal to a vet within 24 hours of the attack to begin the observation period for rabies.
The dog owner will be legally responsible for all costs incurred, including medical bills and emotional damages the victim suffers as a result of the attack.
Does Illinois Have a “One Bite Rule?”
In some states, a dog owner isn’t liable for injuries if the dog had never bitten anyone before and the owner had no reason to know the dog was likely to cause injuries or damage. Illinois does not have a one bite rule. Under Illinois law, dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries and damages their animals cause to others. If a dog owner’s animal bites someone without being provoked, the owner is liable.
It is important to note that Illinois law requires that the victim did not provoke the animal for the dog owner to be liable. Provoking a dog may include pulling the dog’s tail, hitting the dog, or kicking the dog. Provocation may be accidental, such as stepping on the dog’s tail, however.
Compensation for a Dog Attack
In a dog bite lawsuit, a victim has the right to seek compensation for injuries and other expenses. This compensation is called damages. If you or your child has been bitten by someone else’s dog, you can sue for damages that include:
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering, which may include a newfound fear of dogs. This is especially common in children who experience nightmares after being attacked by a dog.
- Lost wages from treating the injury and from incapacitation from your injuries.
Medical expenses typically account for the largest share of damages in a dog bite case. On average, a dog bite-related hospital stay costs more than $18,000, but reconstructive surgery can cost more than $100,000.
Insurance and Dog Attacks in Wheaton
Insurance often plays a role in Wheaton, IL dog bites. If the dog owner has liability insurance or homeowner’s insurance, the insurance company will most likely pay for the owner’s defense in the lawsuit. Homeowner’s insurance usually covers the costs that arise from dog bite claims up to the policy limits, although the dog owner can still be personally liable for any award amount over their policy limit. In general, liability policies provide anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 or more in coverage.
Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance often refuses to cover certain breeds of dogs that are prone to biting. This includes pit bulls and Rottweilers. If you are bitten by a dog blacklisted by the dog owner’s insurance company and the dog owner did not take out a separate dog liability policy for protection, you still have options, including going after the owner’s personal assets.
Contact a Wheaton Dog Bite Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s dog, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer in Wheaton can help you seek fair compensation from the dog owner for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages. Contact Zayed Law Offices today for a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton to discuss your case.