Dog Bites

According to statistics from dogbite.org, every year nearly 12,480 people are hospitalized for dog bites. Indeed, as many as 1,000 people per day suffer some form of injury from a dog bite.  While any animal attack leading to injuries can result in serious injuries and justify filing a claim for personal injuries, dogs are the most common type of animal bite in America, largely due to the number of people who own and keep dogs as pets in this country. So, what makes a case a good dog bite claim for compensation?  Much like a premises liability or slip and fall case, it all depends on the owner, the victim, and the dog.

Understanding Dog Bites. Anyone who owns a pet is legally responsible for the harm and damage that it causes. If you take your dog to a store and it destroys a bunch of crystal glassware, then you’re going to have to cut a check to pay for what the dog damaged. The same holds true for injuries. If your dog has hurt someone, the law generally requires you to make it right. This is typically in the form of paying compensation through an insurance policy.   But it is far more complicated. For instance, which type of insurance will cover the injuries? Well, if the dog bit you on its owner’s personal private residence, chances are their homeowner’s insurance policy will need to be notified to pay the claim for your injuries. If it happened away from their residence, such as at a park or public dog play area, or private business like a groomer or veterinarian, it will largely depend on contracts and implied consents.

Dog Bites in Public. Groomers and vets generally have insurance and bonding to not only pay for damages they may cause to your pet, but also to pay for their own injuries. The idea is by performing a job like that, there are inherent and understood risks that the business owner has assumed. In other words, a groomer knows that a dog might bite them while trimming their nails, so they really shouldn’t be suing the dog owner. However, if you are at a public park and your dog attacks someone, you may be on the hook, and homeowner’s insurance may not always cover it.

What if the Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before? This is known as the “one free bite” rule. In some states, a dog owner can present a defense to liability by showing that the dog had no dangerous propensity, because it has never bitten anyone before. The idea is that a pet owner should not be responsible for a dog bite if they had no reason to know the dog was violent or aggressive. However, Illinois does not recognize this rule. Instead, you may file a claim for injuries against a dog owner even if you are the first and only person that dog has bitten.

Steps to Take if You Suffer a Dog Bite. If you or someone you know gets bitten by a dog, the very first thing you should do is document the injury. This means take photos of the dog, the location where it happened, the injury itself, and any surrounding areas, like addresses and so forth. If it is a business, get the name of the property owner or the business responsible for managing the premises. Finally, get medical care immediately. Do not wait days or weeks to go to a doctor. It is best to simply go to the hospital and be treated. This establishes the injury, shows that you were hurt, and it will provide objective evidence that the injury was indeed a dog bite. Once you’ve done this, and your medical condition is stable, call Crossroad Legal to discuss your case free of charge. We only get paid if you do, and we are here to protect your rights and help you maximize compensation.

Remember though, time is very limited for filing suit for injuries in Illinois. And depending on the specifics of your case, the sooner you get a lawyer involved, the faster we will be able to preserve evidence that could greatly help your case. If you wait too long, much of the evidence could be destroyed and you may not have enough medical treatment to substantiate your claim. So, call us 24/7 to set up a free consult with a lawyer.

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