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Complexity of Illinois Dog Bite Laws

Understanding Illinois dog bite laws will help to shed light on liability in your dog bite case and discerning your chances of recovering damages in your case. Illinois dog bite laws are very complex. They are included in state, county and, in some cases, city laws. They are considered part of tort law. Tort law deals with personal injuries like those arising from traffic cases.

Most Illinois dog bite laws also govern other kinds of injuries that spring from a dog attack (e.g. dog scratches, injuries sustained in attempts to flee from a dog attack). With two exceptions, the law in Illinois indicates that dog owners are responsible for covering medical costs when their dog(s) injures an individual. This does not require the establishment of negligence on the part of the dog owner.


Exception 1 – The injured party provoked the attack:  When the victim of a dog attack is proven to have incited the attack in question, there is typically no liability on the part of the owner or handler of the dog. Let’s say, for example, that a young man passes a dog that is in a fenced yard and unleased. While passing the yard, the man is seen taunting the animal making barking noises. The dog runs toward the man, jumps the fence and bites the man. Whether or not the owner of the dog knew the animal was capable of jumping the fence, the young man’s taunt is what instigated the attack.

If, for instance, the man passed the yard without provoking the dog, and the animal chased the man, jumped the fence and then bit him, it is quite possible the owner would be found liable for the young man’s injuries.

Exception 2 – The injured party was in a location they were not legally permitted to be in: When the victim of a dog attack has encroached upon property or space they are not legally allowed to have access to, there is no legal basis for recovering damages for their injuries. This does not always necessarily mean that a person entered the property or space with an intent to break the law, however (as is the case with a burglar, for instance). If, for instance, a man mistakenly goes to the wrong address expecting to visit an open house. He knocks on the door, which is unlocked. Receiving no response, he enters the home expecting to tour the space and finds he has startled a dog inside. The dog bites the man and he sustains serious injuries before he can escape the residence.

It is likely the man has no grounds upon which to demand damages because he had no legal right to access the home without permission of its owners, which he clearly did not have.

Every dog bite case is, of course, distinct and judged upon its own merits. So it is very important that victims of dog bites seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in animal attacks like those of Panio Law Offices in Chicago. We understand Illinois dog bite laws and can navigate the various county and city laws that govern dog attacks in each local municipality.

Call the attorneys of Panio Law at 888.799.7561 if you have any questions about a dog attack case. We work hard to recover the highest damages for our clients. We serve all of Chicagoland and are ready to meet you in your home if you cannot come to one of our offices. There is no fee unless we recover damages for you. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have questions. We can help.

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