Illinois’ Dog Bite Laws
With spring approaching, most of us will be spending more time outdoors enjoying the warmer temperatures and fresh air. For many local Joliet residents, this means spending time in public spaces like local parks and strolling down neighborhood streets. A small but real fact of life associated with public outdoor spaces is encountering other residents and sometimes their dogs. While we assume most dogs are friendly and non-threatening, dog bites do occur and that is where Illinois’ dog bite laws come into play.
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Dog Owner Liability
Illinois law dictates that a dog owner is liable for any resulting injuries when their dog bites another person so long as the injured person was on public property or legally on private property and the injured person did not provoke the dog prior to the attack.
Fortunately for victims of dog bite injuries, Illinois’ dog bite statute is what is called a “strict liability” statute. This means that it does not matter if the dog’s owner took reasonable care to prevent the attack or restrain their dog, they are still responsible for injuries caused to you by a bite from their dog. The dog’s owner or the person responsible for the dog at the time of the bite might be responsible for paying any damages proved by the injured party including significant medical bills or property damage.
Dog Bite Injury in Shimshock Park
This past April, a lawsuit was filed against the owners of a Pit Bull who attacked a child playing soccer in Joliet’s Shimshock Park. The child’s parents claim that the dog was allowed to roam free when he attacked their son “with no provocation” causing him “severe and permanent injuries.”
One Bite Rule
The standard for proving liability in as many as 18 states requires that the dog in question had a propensity for violence and that the dog’s owner was aware of it. This standard is often referred to as the “one bite rule.” This is often extremely difficult for victims to prove because of the unpredictable nature of dog bites. Victims typically have no prior exposure to or knowledge of the dog or his behavioral history and understandably the dog’s owners are unmotivated to cooperate in proving their dog was vicious.
Thankfully, in the state of Illinois, victims of dog attacks are not required to prove that the dog had a history of aggressive behavior. It is enough to simply show that you were bitten by a dog in an unprovoked attack in a place you were legally permitted to be. You may also file claims against dog owners for other injuries caused by a dog such as those resulting when a dog jumps on you.
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Provocation and Trespassing
In a civil claim for damages against a dog owner, the two most common legal defenses raised by dog owners are provocation and trespassing. Illinois law only allows a person to recover for their injuries if they did not provoke the dog into the attack against them and if the victim was legally present in the location of the attack. Therefore, if the dog owner can prove that the injured party was trespassing at the time the attack took place or that they were provoking the dog into the attack, the victim will be barred from recovering any financial compensation. In the case of the victim at Shimshock Park, he was legally playing in a public space when the dog attacked him causing his parents to become liable for the significant medical expenses required for his recovery. By filing this lawsuit against the owners of the attacking dog, the family of the boy may be able to receive compensation for his medical expenses as well as compensation for his pain and suffering.
What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog in Joliet
If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Joliet, it’s important to keep the following information about Illinois dog bite laws in mind:
- Whether or not the owner restrained the dog, they are responsible for injuries caused to you by a bite from their dog
- Victims of dog attacks are not required to prove that the dog had a history of aggressive behavior
- You may be eligible for compensation if you were not trespassing or provoking the dog at the time of the attack
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case
If you were injured in a dog attack please call The Kryder Law Group to discuss your claim. We will provide an evaluation of your case and assist you in recovering for your injuries to the fullest extent of the law. One call to Kryder Law and it’s handled. We welcome your call or questions at 312-223-1700.