Many people call dogs man’s best friend or are eager to claim that canines make the best domestic companion animals out of any species. While dogs certainly have many traits that make them excellent companions and pets, they are also dangerous both to the people who own them and the general public.
Dogs can attack people with little provocation and cause severe or even fatal injuries. If you or someone in your immediate family recently suffered a vicious dog bite attack, you might wonder what rights you have as you deal with the impact of that attack on your life.
Illinois is a strict liability state for dog owners
Every state has its own rules about responsibility for dog ownership, but most states have rules that fall into one of two categories.
So-called one-bite states generally require that a dog has attacked someone before or that an owner knew the dog was dangerous for a victim to bring a claim against the owner. In strict liability states, the legal presumption is that any dog could cause severe harm to humans and that owners should restrain and contain their animals or face liability if they fail to do so.
In Illinois, provided that the dog was not provoked by illegal activity or aggressive behavior, victims have the right to bring a claim against the animal’s owner for the provable losses they suffer after a dog bite attack.
Most dog bite victims can access one of two kinds of compensation
If you or a family member suffered a vicious attack by an animal on private property or because the animal was running free in a park or your neighborhood, there may be two different kinds of compensation available to you.
If you suffered a bite on someone else’s property or if the dog escaped from an insured property, you may be able to bring a claim against a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. However, many companies have breed restrictions, which means you may not be able to bring a claim if the owner did not report the animal’s presence or disclose its species to their insurance company.
When insurance isn’t an option or when it isn’t enough, victims of serious dog bite attacks can also bring a civil lawsuit against the dog owner for expenses such as medical care, counseling, lost wages and property damage suffered during the attack.