With over 4.5 million dog bites a year in the United States and one in five victims needing medical attention, canine attacks are not a rare occurrence. Dog bite victims in Illinois should contact the personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates to learn their next steps. Our qualified dog bite attorneys will hold the dog owner accountable and ensure you recover the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Injuries From Dog Bites
The size and breed of the dog and its aggression level can impact the types of injuries you may sustain during a dog bite attack. The American Animal Hospital Association recently released research indicating that pit bulls account for 22.5% of dog bite attacks, while German shepherds are responsible for around 17.8% of dog bite injuries.
Some common dog bite injuries include:
One of the most common injury types from attacks is dog scratches from the animal’s teeth or paws. While some scratches can be to the skin’s surface, harmful germs can cause illness and even sepsis if left untreated.
Lacerations are cuts that are visible to the naked eye and can affect any part of the body. Facial lacerations from dog bites can be serious, and you need to receive treatment as soon as possible.
A puncture wound can become infected because it involves the dog’s teeth sinking into the skin. In rare cases, a dog can be infected with rabies, a potentially deadly disease. You should seek immediate medical attention after an attack that causes puncture wounds.
Dog bite scars are usually irregular in shape and can leave dark-colored patches when they heal. Depending on their location, severe bites can produce permanent scars and may require plastic surgery and laser treatment.
Depending on their severity, dog bites can cause temporary or permanent nerve damage. Bites can result in traumatic neurovascular damage and injury to a victim’s central nervous system. With most dog bite victims being children, dog attacks are particularly dangerous for infants and small kids.
A dog’s jaw clamping down on a limb can sever muscle tissue, nerves, and tendons. Torn muscles can keep the victim away from work and other daily activities for weeks or even months. Muscle damage symptoms may persist for over a year after the incident, while surgery and physical therapy may be necessary.
Big dogs can overpower their victims and pull at limbs with force. This can result in dislocated fingers and wrists.
Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and other large dog breeds have ferocious bite forces that can fracture bones. Wrists are particularly susceptible to fractures and breaks because they are composed of several small bones. Because children’s bones are still developing and tend to be weaker than adults, they are more likely to leave dog bite incidents with broken bones.
Infections can happen during a dog attack as canine mouths hold bacteria that can get into the victim’s body when the skin punctures. Sepsis, tetanus, and even rabies can manifest after a dog bite.
Symptoms of a dog bite becoming infected include drainage from the wound, redness, swelling, difficulty moving the affected limb, and a warm feeling around the bite.
In rare cases, dog bites can lead to amputation. This usually occurs when a dog bites down on fingers or a wound suffers a severe infection that does not receive immediate medical attention.
Apart from the physical damage people can suffer from dog attacks, psychological trauma can scar victims deeply. Many children show posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms after dog attacks and require special care to overcome the resulting fear and anxiety.
Victims can also experience a loss of enjoyment of life. Dog bite attacks tend to leave lasting emotional triggers that can manifest in the victim’s body. For example, cynophobia, the fear of dogs, can lead to a rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, tightness in the chest, sweating, and shaking or trembling.
Dog bite victims with emotional trauma can experience hot or cold flashes and become lightheaded in the presence of a dog, regardless of whether the canine is from an aggressive dog breed.
Establishing Negligence in a Dog Bite Case
Dog bite cases are different from other injury claims as your attorney will have to prove liability. Your lawyer must establish that negligent behavior made the attack possible to prove negligence on the dog owner’s part.
Proving negligence involves demonstrating that the dog belongs to the defendant, that the attack occurred without provocation, that the victim had a legal right to be at the site of the attack, and that the victim behaved peacefully around the dog.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
The Illinois Animal Control Act is state legislation that places liability on the dog owner for injuries and damages that their pet causes during an attack. Illinois dog bite law states that dogs are the owners’ property and that restitution may be necessary even for an attempt to attack a potential victim if damages occur.
Illinois leash laws are part of the Animal Control Act and state that the dog owner must contain their pet using a leash or crate when in public. The owner may also keep the dog in their car, as long as they do not put their pet in danger by leaving it in a hot car during the warm months as per the Humane Care for Animals Act.
The Justice for Buddy Act
The “Justice for Buddy Act” is an Illinois law that stems from a 2017 attack on a 10-year- old Yorkie. A neighbor’s dog attacked Buddy in Hanover Park, killing the smaller dog after whom the legislation takes its name.
After taking effect on January 1, 2019, the law protects individuals and their pets from negligent dog owner behavior. The law deems a dog’s owner as reckless if their dangerous pet is found off-leash. The state can potentially remove the pet from the owner in this case.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for pursuing a personal injury claim for a dog bite is two years in Illinois. As a victim, speaking with an experienced Illinois dog bite attorney will ensure you pursue legal action promptly.
Is There a One-Bite Rule in Illinois?
Some states abide by what the legal community calls the one-bite rule. The one-bite rule states that the canine owner is strictly liable for damage only if the owner is aware that the animal exhibits dangerous and vicious behavior. The one-bite rule requires the plaintiff to prove knowledge of the dog’s past aggressive behavior to establish the owner’s negligence.
Illinois does not have a one-bite rule in place, and strict liability applies. This means that the owner is liable for the full extent of damage their dog causes to victims that are conducting themselves peacefully.
What Constitutes Provocation?
Provocation is a legal term that applies to dog bite cases. If you are a dog attack victim, the defendant may try to claim that you provoked the dog, which led to the subsequent attack. An expert in pet behavior will have to testify to support such a claim.
Provoking a dog can include entering a dog’s space, startling or attacking it, or even playing with the dog too forcefully. Provocation in Illinois can mean an intentional or unintentional action.
Seeking Compensation After a Dog Attack
To receive compensation, you must prove that the dog attacked you and that you did not provoke the animal according to the law. You must also prove that your presence at the site of the dog attack was legal and that you suffered serious injury during the incident.
The dog does not have to bite you to recover damages. For example, if a dog jumps on you, causing you to fall over, or scares you into falling down a flight of stairs, you can claim compensation for damages.
The amount of money you can expect to recover from your claim depends on injury severity. Illinois dog bite injury victims have received a few thousand to millions of dollars in damages for attacks from dangerous animals.
Fatal dog attacks can result in compensation for surviving family members and restitution for private property damage.
Types of Compensation in a Dog Bite Claim
Recovering from animal attacks can be costly. Medical attention can span from a visit to the emergency room to treatment and physical therapy that lasts for months or years.
Inoculations for rabies and tetanus can be expensive for patients, even when the victim has medical insurance coverage. A dog bite claim will ensure you receive compensation for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur after the incident.
Scarring may require reconstructive surgery and laser treatment. Severe scars may require multiple surgeries, causing sizable medical bills and prolonged absences from work.
Severing nerves and tearing muscle and tendons may require rehabilitation for you to regain vital motor skills. If rehabilitation follows several surgeries, the medical bill can be too costly for most people to pay.
Your injuries can lead to time away from work, burdening your personal and family budget. An experienced attorney can claim lost wages, so your finances are not thrown off course due to the dog attack.
Non-economic damages cover the mental anguish of losing a loved one or the loss of consortium and suffering costs of disfigurement.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bite Incident?
If you’re a dog attack victim in Illinois, you need to hold the animal owner liable. After seeking emergency medical care, contact an experienced dog bite lawyer at Nessler & Associates. A personal injury attorney will ensure you recover your medical costs and pursue punitive damages if the dog owner acted with malice or egregious negligence.
Call our law firm today at 800-727-8010. Initial consultations are free for dog bite victims.