Dog Bites & Animal Attacks
Illinois is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites and other animal attacks. A dog bite victim does not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent; the victim need only prove: (1) that he or she was harmed by the animal; and (2) that the animal was not provoked. The owner of the animal can be held responsible for all damages resulting from the attack, including medical expenses, disfigurement, loss of a normal life, and even emotional injuries.
The Animal Control Act provides that "if a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of injury proximately caused thereby." The Act provides that persons injured due to an attack, or even an attempt to attack, may seek redress against the animal's owner. This means that if a dog jumps on you and causes you to fall over and hit your head, you could seek medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or lost income, and other damages arising from the fall-down caused by the attack.
The Act eliminates the requirement that the owner have prior knowledge of the animal’s vicious or dangerous propensity. Steinberg v. Petta , 114 Ill.2d 496 (1986). The Act encourages strict control over animals by imposing liability on their owners for injuries ( Partipilo v. DiMaria , 211 Ill.App.3d 813 (1991) and eliminates the “one bite rule,” which used to require plaintiffs to prove that the dog owner previously knew that their dog had a propensity to injure people. Docherty v. Saddler , 293 Ill.App.3d 892 (1997).
A report should be made to local animal control authorities so that dangerous animals can be safely monitored. Animal control officials will document the animal’s history, provide a written report and work to prevent others from being bitten or attacked by a potentially dangerous animal in the future.
Bloomingdale Man Viciously Attacked while Rescuing His Small Dogs
DuPage County dog bite lawyer, John Malm, has been retained by a man who suffered serious laceration injuries to his hand as a result of a sudden dog bite incident. The man, who was walking his two small dogs, was suddenly attacked by two large dogs, who were let out of a nearby home in Bloomingdale, Illinois. The attacking dogs were unrestrained, and the dogs’ owner had not obtained rabies shots for the animals. The victim’s dog was also severely injury in the attack.
Glen Ellyn Man Rescues Dog, Suffers Hand Laceration, and Undergoes Surgery
A Glen Ellyn man has retained the Naperville dog bite lawyers at John J. Malm & Associates, P.C., to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that suddenly attacked him as he attempted to rescue his small dog. The attack occurred in Wheaton, Illinois. The man, who was visiting his son, was suddenly attacked when a neighbor’s dog suddenly appeared and viciously attacked his small dog, causing multiple puncture wounds to the small animal. The lawsuit was filed pursuant to the Illinois Animal Control Act. 510 ILCS 5/16.
Montgomery Man Suffers Knee Injury Defending His Dog, Undergoes Surgery
Naperville dog bite attorney, John Malm, has been retained by a man who suffered a knee injury as he struggled to fend off a neighbor’s dog that broke through a backyard fence, entered the man’s property, and mauled the man’s small dog. The attack occurred in Montgomery, Illinois. In Illinois, injuries suffered by a victim, including fall down injuries or knee injuries, may be actionable when they occur as a result of a dog attack—even if no actual bite upon the victim occurs.
Aurora Girl Attacked by Dog During Back Yard Barbeque
The family of a young girl has retained the Illinois dog bite lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Malm & Associates to represent their daughter in a personal injury claim. The girl was bitten about the face while attending an afternoon barbeque at the home of a family friend. The little girl was hospitalized and underwent a reconstructive surgical procedure to treat the injuries suffered in the attack. The dog had been tied up at the time of the occurrence and was not provoked. Mr. Malm is pursuing a claim against the dog owner’s insurance carrier, seeking damages for the painful injuries, including facial scarring suffered by the little girl.
10-month-old Naperville Girl Attacked by Grandparents’ Dog
The family of a 10-month-old girl, who was bitten in the face by her grandparents’ golden retriever, has retained the Illinois dog bite attorneys at John J. Malm & Associates to represent her in a claim directed against the grandparents’ homeowner’s insurance company. The little girl suffered injuries when she was suddenly bit in the face. Animal Control reports for the household indicate that other attacks had previously occurred at the same location involving at least one other dog. Under Illinois law, a child has a right to seek reimbursement for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and disfigurement suffered due to an animal attack, even at the home of a grandparent. Most homeowner’s insurance policies in Illinois provide coverage for such claims.
Toddler Scarred from Pitbull Attack Inside Chicago Home
The family of a Glen Ellyn girl has retained pitbull attack lawyer, John Malm, to pursue a claim for injuries and disfigurement after a recent incident. The 2-year-old girl suffered a laceration injury to her face after a pitbull suddenly attacked her at a relative’s home. Animal Control authorities impounded the American pitbull terrier, pending an investigation.
Naperville Girl Bitten by Dog at Neighborhood Gathering
Illinois Dog Bite lawyer John Malm has been retained to represent an eight-year-old girl who suffered serious facial lacerations as a result of a dog bite. The family was attending a neighborhood gathering when the dog suddenly bit her in the face. The girl was hospitalized and underwent reconstructive surgery. The dog was leashed at the time of the incident and was not provoked. The child’s family is pursuing a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance carrier for the serious and painful injuries suffered by her, including permanent facial scarring and disfigurement.
Plainfield Boy Bitten by Pit Bull While Riding His Bike
A Plainfield family has retained personal injury lawyer, John Malm, to represent them after their son, age 7, was recently attacked by a pit bull near his home. The boy was suddenly attacked in front of a neighbor’s house when the animal charged toward the sidewalk. Incredibly, the dog’s chain was long enough to allow it to reach the sidewalk. The boy suffered multiple laceration wounds requiring emergency medical attention. A claim against the dog’s owner is pending, and the Will County Animal Control Department has found the animal to be dangerous.
Pitbull Attack in Naperville Results in Numerous Injuries to Naperville Boy
A Naperville family has retained personal injury lawyer, John Malm, to represent them after their son, age 13, was attacked by a pit bull at a friend’s home. The boy was suddenly attacked when the animal was let through a back door into the yard where the boy was playing. The boy suffered multiple, severe laceration, and puncture wounds requiring surgical intervention. A claim against the dog’s owners is pending, and the Will County Animal Control Department is investigating the attack.
Plainfield Girl Attacked by Dog at Friend’s Home
Dog Bite lawyer John Malm is pursuing a claim against the owner of a home in Plainfield where a teenage girl was recently attached by a German Sheppard that was being kept there. The girl suffered laceration injuries to her face, requiring stiches and dermatologic laser treatment to reduce scarring. The animal is believed to have bitten at least one other child at the home before the incident.
Child Injured in Pitbull Attack in DuPage County
DuPage County dog bite lawyer, John Malm, has been retained by a Lisle, Illinois family whose son, then 10 years old, was attacked by a friend’s pit bull. The young boy was viciously attacked during a play date at a friend’s home. The boys had been playing the back yard when the animal suddenly chased the boy and attacked him without provocation. The animal then dragged the boy by his head, biting him. The boy suffered multiple severe bite and laceration injuries as a result of the attack. An investigation into the attack was performed by DuPage County Animal Control . The lawsuit against the owners of the pit bull is pending in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in DuPage County, Illinois.
Naperville Man Attacked by Mastiff/American Staffordshire (“Pit Bull”)
A Naperville man was recently bitten when he tried to save his own dog from an attack by a mastiff/American Staffordshire mixed breed dog that wandered onto his property. The Illinois dog bite lawyers at John Malm & Associates are representing the man in a claim against the owner of the dog. A settlement in lieu of a lawsuit is being pursued with the insurance carrier for the owner of the vicious animal.
Woman Bitten by Dog on Jogging Path in Kane County
A St. Charles, Illinois woman has retained Naperville personal injury attorney, John Malm, to file a lawsuit against her neighbors, the owners of a dog who attacked her on a jogging path near her home in Kane County, Illinois. The attack occurred near the home of the dog owner, who also witnessed the attack. The woman suffered multiple dog bite injuries as a result of the attack. Owners of the dangerous animal have stated that the dog may been acting in a “protective” manner. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the injured woman is pending in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Kane County, Illinois.
Batavia Girl Bitten by Dog During Visit to Naperville Home
Naperville dog bite attorney, John Malm, has been retained by the family of a young girl to pursue a claim for damages arising out of a dog bite that occurred in the back yard of a Naperville home. The Kane County child and her family were visiting with friends at the time she was bitten. The young girl suffered bite injuries to her face, requiring surgical attention to address her wounds.
How do dog attacks most often occur?
Despite popular fiction about stray dogs attacking joggers, the reality is that most dog attacks occur suddenly at home. In fact, the majority of bite victims are friends or members of the dog owner's family. At least 60% of reported dog bites occur at home, and approximately 75% of bite victims are close friends or family members. Only a very small percentage of reported incidents of animal attacks involve unidentified or stray animals.
If I do not want to sue anybody, can I still get compensation?
Personal relationships often exist between a dog owner and a dog bite victim, and sometimes my clients understandably feel awkward about pursuing a claim against a family member or a friend. Clients may say to me, “I do not want to sue my neighbor.” Your dog bite claim, if handled skillfully, can be settled reasonably and confidentially with your neighbor’s insurance company, often without a lawsuit.
Experienced dog bite attorneys should seek compensation for the harm, without punishing the dog’s owner. A successful settlement in your dog bite case will likely be paid by the available liability insurance coverage, not directly by the friend or family member whose dog was involved in the unfortunate incident. An attorney representing a dog bite victim should understand and respect the personal or family relationships that may exist between a dog owner and victim, and act professionally in bringing your claim.
What damages can I claim?
You must consider what types of damages will be legally compensable in your dog bite claim, and what amount of damages a court or jury is likely to award. In Illinois, you may be entitled to:
- past and future medical expenses
- the value of lost time (wages) from work
- scars and disfigurement
- loss of a normal life
- pain and suffering (past, present and future)
If my child was injured, what should I do?
Children are most often the victims of a sudden dog bites. Parents must consider their child's needs when seeking legal and monetary redress for injuries that could have life-long consequences. Do not make quick decisions that could reduce the value of your child’s claim. Do not accept a settlement for medical bills alone, when damages for past and future pain and suffering and disfigurement should compensated. I encourage my clients to carefully consider the prospect of painful or disfiguring injuries in the months and years to come, especially when a child has been injured in an animal attack. You should be aware that Illinois law requires a parent seeking damages for a child to demonstrate that any settlement being considered is fair and reasonable, before agreeing to settle. Court approval will be required in most cases, even if no lawsuit was ever filed. A physician’s report may be needed, even after treatment is completed. It is, therefore, best to consult with a dog bite lawyer who can help you manage your claim and help you get your child a successful settlement.
My injuries did not heal well. Are there other treatments I will need in the future?
Lacerations, puncture wounds and crush injuries to soft tissue are painful and difficult to treat, often resulting in infection. Even the most capable surgeon or experienced emergency room physician will agree that it is nearly impossible to close and suture a patient's wounds without leaving a scar. Raised or hyper-pigmented scarring often occurs. Dermabrasion (a procedure to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents) and revisional scar surgery (surgery to minimize the scar tissue and make it appear more consistent with surrounding skin tone and texture) may be considered as an alternative treatment, but often patients discover that a disfiguring scar from a dog bite will be permanent. Before settling your case, experienced dog bite lawyers encourage clients to obtain an opinion from a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to know whether costly future medical treatment will be needed.
How can I find out of there is liability insurance to cover what happened to me?
A primary legal consideration will be the availability of liability insurance coverage. Because most dog bites occur in the home, a homeowner's insurance policy may afford liability coverage to the pet owner in the event of a claim or lawsuit following an attack. Such coverage is similar to that of an automobile liability insurance policy that provides coverage in the event of a collision. You must issue proper legal notices, demanding that an insurance carrier investigate the claim. Sometimes, a lawsuit is necessary to determine wither a dog owner (or homeowner) is covered by liability insurance. Some policies have exclusions, so it is best to investigate the claim with a lawyer. Your counsel must be experienced in analyzing potential liability insurance coverage issues.
The insurance company tried to call me. Should I speak to them?
Do not speak to insurance adjusters who may call you. Their job is to defeat or minimize your claim. Your dog bite claim is a contested legal matter, even if it is settled without filing a lawsuit. Insurance adjustors and defense lawyers are not permitted to speak to you if you are represented by your own legal counsel. Avoid volunteering any information to the insurance company simply because you know or are related to the animal's owner, however awkward you may feel about bringing a claim. There are important legal notice and claim notice requirements that should be addressed by an attorney now, to avoid an unnecessary contest over insurance coverage or evidence later.
- An estimate 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year. Centers for Disease Control (2003).
- Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical attention every year. Centers for Disease Control (2003).
- Approximately two-thirds of all dog bites occur on or near the victim’s property, or the property belonging to the dog owner.
- The insurance industry (homeowners insurance) pays more than $1,000,000,000 in dog bite claims each year.
- Approximately 58% of human deaths from animal attacks involve unrestrained dogs on the dog owner’s property. Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998, JAVMA, 217(6), 836-840.
- Nearly 71% of all dog bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, and feet). American Humane Society (2012).
- 70% of dog bites are suffered by children.
- The majority of all dog bites occur to people who are neither strangers to the dog, nor its owner. MSPCA.org (2012).
- 71% of all deaths are caused by pit bulls, an animal which accounts for less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population. http://www.dogsbite.org (January 4, 2012).
- Among all breeds, pit bulls consistently account for the majority of all attacks producing bodily harm, death, or maiming of victims. http://www.dogsbite.org (2011).
- Dog bit injuries occur most commonly to the arm and hand (45.3%), leg and foot (25.8%), and head and neck (22.8%).
- The majority of injuries to the head and neck are sustained by children under the age of 4 (64.9% of all such injuries occurring to children under the age of 4).
- Dog bite injuries are most often associated with puncture wounds (40.2%), laceration wounds (24.7%), contusion, abrasion, and hematoma injuries (6.0%), and with a small minority resulting in infection, fracture, and amputation.
After seeking prompt emergency medical attention, you should report the dog bite incident or attack to animal control. Then, consult with the Illinois dog bite lawyers at John J. Malm & Associates, an experienced personal injury law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered an injury or loss due to an accident. You may be entitled to a substantial settlement if you have been injured. Call 630-527-4177, or 312-422-6855, and speak with Attorney John J. Malm.