There are a wide variety of circumstances under which a person may find themselves the victim of an animal attack. In Illinois, victims' rights in dog bite cases are outlined in the Illinois Animal Control Act. The Illinois Animal Control Act, 510 ILCS 5/1 et seq., was passed in 1949 to, among other things, eliminate the common law “one-bite rule,” under which a plaintiff could generally not recover for injuries caused by an animal attack absent evidence that the animal had a dangerous disposition of which its owner was aware.
The Illinois Animal Control Act outlines conditions under which a victim of an animal injury may recover damages. Proving these conditions existed during the attack is key to establishing liability in these cases.
Essentially, the victim must establish that they did not provoke the dog or other animal in question nor did they encroach upon an area or space they were legally prohibited from entering (i.e. trespassing into another's backyard). Aside from these guidelines, victims of dog bites or animal attacks in Illinois must also ensure they reach the responsible party when bringing a lawsuit to recover damages.
Section 16 of the Code, the most applicable language of the law, reads:
Animal attacks or injuries. If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.
Often, the challenge for victims in these cases is determining who, in the eyes of the law, is indeed the owner of the dog in question. Essentially the statute explains that anyone who exercises a measure of care, custody and control over the animal may be considered the owner at the time of the incident and may be held responsible for the injuries sustained in a dog bite attack.
But exactly what kinds of damages may be recovered in these cases? Victims may be entitled to recover damages for medical bills that result from care for their injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
Navigating the state statue governing animal attacks in Illinois is complex in and of itself. Add to the the fact that, while each municipality must adhere to the Illinois Animal Control Act, it may also pass its own individual regulations governing animal attacks. These municipal ordinances may impose even stricter guidelines for establishing liability in dog bite cases.
It's important that you seek the council of an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Panio Law Offices when looking to bring a law suit against an individual for damages in cases of dog bite. They can help navigate all applicable statutes and codes and help to establish liability as well as negotiate or litigate damages in these cases.
Recovering damages from an animal attack without an experienced personal injury attorney can be just as difficult as dealing with care and recovery after the attack, itself.
We can help you through the process. Call us if you have questions or need help with these kinds of cases: (312) 313-0305.