Want to learn more about chicago dog bite lawsuits and settlements? There are an estimated 13 million dogs living in the state of Illinois alone, making man’s best friend a pretty popular companion animal.
While most are beloved pets with no history of aggression, even dogs that have always been docile can suddenly attack, causing potentially devastating injuries to their victims.
Illinois Dog Bite Cases Rank High
Although the number of dog attacks and bites are roughly the same in Illinois as in any other state, Illinois is second only to California for dog bite litigation, according to statistics released by State Farm Insurance in April of 2017.
Of the dog bites cases that go to court in Illinois, almost one in three occurs in Cook County.
The high figures could be a result of Illinois’s lack of a “one free bite” law. In many other states, owners can’t be held liable for their dog’s actions if they are not aware that their pooch can be potentially aggressive. That initial bite, however, puts them on notice. Illinois does not have such a provision, so owners can be held liable for an unexpected first bite.
Because of this provision, attorneys suggest making sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers your pets.
Which Dog Breeds Are More Likely to Bite?
While any dog breed can bite, the breeds most commonly associated with bites that cause serious injury are pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, mastiff breeds, and boxers, largely due to the size of the dogs. While smaller dogs – Jack Russells, especially (Moose, the Jack Russell on the hit show “Frasier,” often bit his co-star, John Mahoney, the show’s star, Kelsey Grammer, revealed earlier this year) – often bite more often, the injuries are less severe, and as a result, often go unreported.
For those bites that are reported, however, the injuries can be significant.
Potential injuries include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Deep puncture wounds
- Scarring and permanent disfigurement
- Blood loss
- Anxiety and depression
Dog Bite Attack in Illinois Leads to Large Settlement
In 2013, an Illinois teen was awarded $1.1 million, at the time the largest in state history, after a 120-pound mastiff escaped from his enclosure and attacked the young man, then 15, causing serious injury.
Jordyn Bankston was attacked for 10 minutes before a neighbor and the dog’s owner were eventually able to help free the teen from the dog’s jaws by holding a lit cigarette to the dog’s nose.
The teen suffered significant injuries in the attack, according to his attorney, included extensive damage to his scalp, his right shoulder and arm and his thigh, all of which required plastic surgery. The teen also required therapy sessions in order to cope with anxiety associated with seeing a dog or hearing one bark.
The attorney called it “a very, very traumatic event.”
The settlement was paid by the dog owner’s primary and umbrella homeowners’ insurance policies.
BULL MASTIFF INVOLVED IN ANOTHER CASE IN IL
In 2012, a bull mastiff that had already been taken from his owner after biting a mail carrier in the arm – a wound that required 15 stitches – bit a boy in the face while he was being held at the animal shelter in Yorkville, Ill. When the boy, visiting the shelter with his volunteer dad, bent down to pet the dog.
In response to the suit, the Kendall County Animal Control has changed its policies, and now restricts access to the dogs at the shelter to adults aged 18 and above.
Woman Sues Brother After Dog Bite Injury in Chicago
In 2014, a woman won a $140,000 settlement after her brother’s dog, a lab/husky mix that she had attempted to restrain from running back into the street after he’d been hit by a car, bit her thumb, doing enough damage that she required four separate surgeries to repair the injury, which left a lifelong scar.
The woman filed the suit in 2010, two years after the incident, alleging that her brother and his wife had failed to control their dog properly by allowing him to escape the house.
The jury found in her favor, and although her brother and his wife filed an appeal, a second jury again found in the injured woman’s favor.
The dog died shortly after the incident as a result of his own injuries. A Chicago dog bite lawyer can help you if you have any issues with dog bite injuries.
FAMILY PETS MOST COMMON CULPRIT
Many severe dog injuries or deaths often involve family pets.
In 2013, 2-year-old Jah’Niyah White was killed after suffering a dog attack while staying at her grandfather’s house in South Chicago.
The toddler’s death, in which she lost her left earlobe, was ruled a homicide, and Chicago’s Department of Animal Care and Control took custody of the dogs after the attack.
A year later, three family pets killed 4-year-old Kara Hartrich of Bloomington, Illinois, on the girl’s birthday. The pit bulls had been raised from puppies and had been selected specifically by the girl. The three dogs were euthanized, and no charges were filed.
When Can a Lawsuit Be Filed For a Dog Bite Injury in Illinois?
Because of the state’s “strict liability” law, in Illinois, a dog’s owner is almost always responsible if their dog bites someone, and will be required to compensate the victim for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, disfigurement and mental anguish.
Actions may also be taken against the dog owner by the State of Illinois or the City of Chicago, who may fine or charge the owner and place restrictions on or euthanize the dog.
However, if the bite was provoked – if the victim kicked or hit the dog, for example – the fault lies with the victim, and no lawsuit can be filed against the victim’s owner.
Cases where a person accidentally steps on a dog’s tail, however, causing an aggressive reaction, are a little more ambiguous, and may or may not fall under the category of provocation.
Do I Need a Chicago Dog Bite Attorney?
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to consult an attorney experienced in Illinois dog bite litigation to determine whether or not your injuries and the incident are worthy of legally pursuing.
Dog-on-dog bites are more common, and due to vet bills can also be cause for litigation, experts say.