I Was Bitten by a Dog. What Can I Do?

Dogs are wonderful companions that bring joy and comfort to many people’s lives. However, sometimes these furry friends can become aggressive and cause harm to humans. In this blog post, we will be discussing who can be held liable for a dog bite victim’s injuries as well as what to do if you are injured in an animal attack.  

Understanding Illinois Dog Bite Laws 

Under Illinois law, dog owners are responsible for their pet's behavior. If a dog bites someone or attacks them, the owner can be held liable for any injury or damage inflicted by the pet. It does not matter if the owner knew or didn't know about their pet's aggressive tendencies or if they had the animal under control at the time of the attack. The law holds the owner responsible. 

Illinois follows the legal doctrine of strict liability when it comes to dog bites. This means that the owner is liable for their dog's actions regardless of whether they acted carelessly or not. In case of a dog bite, the victim can file a lawsuit, and if they can prove the owner's negligence or failure to control their dog, they may be awarded damages for their injuries. 

In some cases, dog owners may argue that the victim provoked the dog, causing it to attack. Illinois law recognizes provocation as a defense to dog bite claims. If the defendant can prove that the victim taunted, teased, or harassed the dog, the liability may be reduced or eliminated. However, the provocation must be severe enough to justify the dog's reaction. 

What Is the Legal Definition of a Vicious Dog?  

The Illinois Animal Control Act defines a dangerous dog as one that has bitten, attacked, or injured a person or other animal without provocation. If a dog is declared dangerous by the court, the owner must take reasonable precautions to ensure the animal doesn't harm again.  

This includes keeping the dog under control, muzzling or restraining it, and attending obedience training courses. Failing to comply with these requirements can result in fines, imprisonment, or even the euthanization of the animal. 

What to Do if Bitten by a Dog in Illinois 

It is important to know what actions to take in the event of a dog bite. In Illinois, there are legal requirements that victims must adhere to, along with necessary first-aid measures, which we discuss in further detail below. 

First-Aid Measures 

If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to take immediate action to address your wounds. First, you should check the severity of your wounds. If a wound is not too severe, you should gently clean the wound with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris.  

After cleaning and dressing the wound, apply an antiseptic ointment to help prevent infection. Make sure to monitor the wound closely for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or drainage. If the wound becomes red, swollen, or tender, seek medical attention immediately. 

In more severe cases, apply pressure to the wound to control bleeding, and cover it with a sterile dressing. If necessary, use a bandage to secure the dressing in place and immediately seek medical treatment. 

Recognizing the Severity of the Bite 

Dog bites can range in severity from mild to severe. To determine the severity of the bite, consider the following factors: 

  • The size and breed of the dog 

  • The location of the bite 

  • The depth of the wound 

  • Whether the bite broke the skin 

  • Whether the dog is up to date on its vaccinations 

Signs of Infection 

It is important to monitor the wound for any signs of infection, which can include redness, swelling, warmth, and drainage. Other signs of infection may include fever, chills, and general malaise. If any of these symptoms develop, seek medical attention immediately. 

You Are Legally Required to Report Bite Incidents 

In Illinois, it is mandatory to report any dog bites to the local animal control agency or police department. The owner of the dog may be required to get a dangerous animal license, and the dog may be put down if it severely injured a person or another animal. 

Seek Reliable Legal Counsel 

If you've been injured by a dog, consult an experienced personal injury attorney to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. The amount of compensation that one can receive in a dog bite claim depends on various factors such as the severity of the injury, medical expenses incurred, lost wages, disfigurement, and emotional distress. The victim of the dog bite can seek damages for physical and emotional harm caused by the incident.  

It is essential to hire a personal injury lawyer who can help navigate the legal system to ensure that the injured person receives full compensation for their losses. A personal injury lawyer can help gather evidence and negotiate with insurance companies to increase the likelihood of receiving fair compensation. With their experience in handling dog bite claims, personal injury lawyers can also help ensure that the victim's legal rights are protected. 

McHargue & Jones, LLC is equipped to handle animal attack cases, including dog bite claims. Call (312) 487-2461 to speak with our attorneys.