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Arlington Heights Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

Wheeling dog bite injury lawsuit help

Attorneys for Victims of Dog, Cat, and Animal Attacks in Cook County and Rolling Meadows

Many people do not understand that they need insurance when they own an animal that could hurt someone. Owners of dogs, as well as cats and other types of animals, should make sure that either their renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance covers personal injuries caused by a pet or animal in their control. It is not unusual for dogs of all sizes to bite or scar adults and children. Cat scratches and bites as well can cause permanent disfigurement and infection. We have represented people who have been severely injured from dogs jumping and pushing people down and breaking bones as well as those that have had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, infections, permanent disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of normal life, large medical bills, and many other medical conditions.

Illinois Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals Cause Injuries

The law is clear that the liability of animals is also not limited to cats and dogs. The law extends to virtually any animal owned, and the liability is called strict liability. Strict liability makes it very difficult for the owner or someone in control of the animal to avoid paying compensation to someone injured.

Newland & Newland, LLP has been successful at recovering financial compensation for those that have been injured by dogs or other animals. The Illinois state legislature passed the Animal Control Act, Section 510 ILCS 5/2.16, which covers the following: 

"If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in damages to such person for the full amount of injuries sustained. Therefore the owner of a dog or other animal that attacks or injures someone is responsible for damages to the injured party."

Owner is defined as follows pursuant to the statute:

"Any person having a right of property in a dog or other animal, or who keeps or harbors a dog or other animal, or who has it in his care, or who acts as its custodian, or who normally permits a dog or other domestic animal to remain on or about any premise occupied by him."

When Can You Sue for an Injury Caused by an Animal?

In order to have an action or claim under the animal control act, it is necessary to have the following elements:

  1. An injury.
  2. The animal cannot be provoked by the party that was injured.
  3. There must be an owner as defined in the statute.

The above list is supported by the jury instruction that is provided during trial which states:

"At the time of this occurrence, there was enforced in the State of Illinois a Statute governing the responsibility of one owning, keeping or harboring a dog or other animal." That statute provides that the owner of an animal, a person keeping an animal, a person harboring an animal is liable in damages for injuries sustained from any attack or injury by an animal on a person peacefully conducting himself in a place where he may lawfully be, unless that person knew of the presence of an animal and did something a reasonable person should have known would be likely to provoke an animal to attack or injure him, or unless that person knew of the presence of an animal and the unusual and dangerous nature of that animal and did something a reasonable person should have known would be likely to provoke an attack or injury by that animal.

When we proceed on a dog bite or other animal injury claim, we proceed both under the statute and under the common law. The common law instruction reads as follows:

"One who keeps or owns an animal which he knows is vicious or dangerous to people is liable to a person injured by the animal unless the injured person did something a reasonable person is likely to know would provoke an attack by the animal or unless the injured person knew of an individual characteristic of the animal and did something which a reasonable person could reasonably expect could provoke an attack by that particular animal or unless the injured person voluntarily exposed himself to injury either knowing the customary nature of the animal or knowing the peculiar nature of a specific animal"

How Long Do You Have Before You Must Take Legal Action?

Generally, the statute of limitations for an animal attack is two years from the date of the occurrence, unless the party attacked and injured is a minor; then it would be two years from the minor's 18th birthday. We advise not to delay when minors are attacked. Claims are generally worth more money when the child is younger, although every circumstance is to be evaluated on its own merits.

Some people ask why such a law exists to protect people from animals. The law exists to make animal owners accountable for what their animals do and to encourage owners to control their animals. In many cases, our attorneys will seek compensation from homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance.

Many people are of the opinion that an animal must bite them to be accountable; however, this opinion is not accurate. Many people are injured from dog attacks from being pushed down or scratched, and in fact, cat scratches can be very harmful and sometimes even deadly.

Will The Animal Be Destroyed If I Sue?

Many people are concerned that if they proceed with a lawsuit against the owner of a dog or other animal that the animal will then be destroyed by the authorities. We have never seen this to be the case, although sometimes dogs that are found to be vicious and which have bitten others are destroyed. A dog can be determined to be a vicious dog if, in fact, it has bitten more than one person, and the bites were unprovoked.

We have had many cases where children have been scarred for life as a result of animal attacks and, in consequence, we firmly believe that animal owners must be accountable for their animals.

Illinois law has held that violation of a local ordinance may constitute a valid cause of action in a personal injury case. Therefore, it is not necessary to show that the animal causing the attack or bite was known by the owner to have violent propensities. The actual injury itself without provocation generally suffices to entitle an injured party to damages.

Arlington Heights Cat and Dog Attack Injury Lawyers

The attorneys at Newland & Newland, LLP have handled many cases of cat, dog, and other animal attack cases.  If you have been injured in an unprovoked attack or have questions about suing an animal owner, contact our personal injury attorneys at 847-797-8000. We serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Itasca, Wheeling, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Mount Prospect. 

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