Understanding Illinois Dog Bite Laws

b2ap3_thumbnail_dog-bite-law-illinois.jpgSummer is a time for enjoying outdoor activities with family and friends. Barbecues, pool parties, or even just walks in the park can help reduce stress and be sources of relaxation for many people. Understandably, it is not uncommon for dog owners to want to include their furry friends in many of these leisure activities. In many cases, this turns out just fine, but sometimes, dogs will bite and when they do, owners may be held fully liable for any injuries sustained.

Dog Bite Provisions in the Law

According the Illinois Animal Control Act, a dog owner is liable for civil damages when his or her dog bites, attacks, or otherwise injures a person who:

  • Did not provoke the dog;
  • Was acting in a peaceful manner; and
  • Was in a place that he or she was legally permitted to be, e.g. was not trespassing.

The law also clarifies that, for its purposes, an owner could also refer to a person who is currently responsible for the animal. He or she is not required to be the registered owner of the dog to be held liable.

Proving a Dog Bite Claim

To collect damages for injuries sustained as the result of a dog bite, your claim must demonstrate several points. You must be able to prove that:

  • The defendant is/was the owner of the dog, as statutorily defined;
  • You did not provoke the attack, trespass, or act in any way that could be construed as other than a peaceful manner;
  • You suffered measurable damages, including medical care, or missed work, due to your injuries; and
  • The dog bite or attack was the proximate cause of your injuries.

Unlike other areas of personal injury, the laws regarding dog bite do not require a claimant to prove negligence on the part of the owner. While there may certain questions over the assumption of risk based in common law rather than the enacted statute, a qualified attorney can help you understand your options on how to proceed.

Dangerous or Vicious Animals

Depending on the circumstances of a dog bite case, the court may make a determination regarding the dog itself, in addition to awarding damages. Upon preponderance of the evidence, a court may find a dog to be “dangerous,” which imposes specific care and supervision requirements on the owner. These include mandatory spay and neutering, evaluation or training programs, and increased leash requirements.

Additionally, the court may also find a dog to be “vicious,” based on a single incident of serious injury or three separate findings that the dog is “dangerous.” A vicious dog is subject to even more strict limitations, including enclosure requirements. The court may even require a vicious dog to be euthanized depending on the circumstances of the case.

If you have suffered injuries as the result of a dog bite or other animal attack, contact an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney. At Martoccio & Martoccio, our knowledgeable team will work with in building a case designed to help you get the compensation you need to put your life back together. Call 630-920-8855 to schedule your free consultation today.

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