Many people welcome a dog into their home and gladly take on the responsibility of walking, feeding and other general care of their pet. In Illinois, animal owners are also responsible if their dog bites a person.
Animal owner is defined as anyone who owns, keeps or cares for an animal or who lets an animal stay on his or her property. Illinois holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog, which means that the injured person does not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent.
If a dog bites a person who is acting peacefully in a place he or she is legally allowed to be, the dog’s owner can be held civilly liable for damages that result from the victim’s injuries.
Dogs who are especially dangerous are called vicious. However, a dog is not vicious if the injured person did something to cause the dog to attack, the injured person was committing a crime against the dog owner or his or her property or the dog was protecting itself, the dog owner or a household member when it bit the person.
Dog bites can cause minor injuries like scratches or bruises and in more serious situations, the victim can suffer eye damage, broken bones, puncture wounds or even permanent disability. He or she may also lose time from work in order to heal, which can affect their ability to provide for themselves and their family.
If a person is injured by a dog bite, he or she has two years to file a claim but it’s helpful to receive legal guidance soon after an injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can answer questions about next steps and provide representation.