Each year, close to a million Americans suffer dog bites that require medical attention. Many of these victims are children (by some estimates, as many as half of all dog attacks involve children), and children five to nine years of age are the most likely to suffer serious injuries in a dog attack.
While wounds can heal, the physical and emotional scars from a vicious dog attack can last a lifetime. The financial costs can also add up quickly, and the need for long-term medical treatment can put many families into debt. If you, your child or another loved one has been bitten by a dog, you need to assert your legal rights, and you need to hire a lawyer who will fight to win the compensation you deserve.
Skilled Legal Representation for Dog Bite Claims in Chicago, IL
The Chicago injury lawyers at Jackowiak Law Offices are committed to fighting for victims of vicious dog attacks. If you or your child has suffered serious injuries, one of our lawyers will be happy to meet with you personally to discuss your legal rights. If, after your free initial consultation, you choose our law firm to represent you, we will work diligently to calculate your losses and secure the financial compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.
In dog bite cases, as in many other types of personal injury claims, the long-term costs of victims’ injuries can far exceed their immediate medical expenses and lost wages. Dog bite injuries will often require multiple surgeries, each with its own lengthy period of recovery. As a result, when considering settlement offers for a dog bite claim, it is critical to make sure that you have a clear understanding of your current and future losses. We have significant experience on dog bite injury claims, and our attorneys can make sure that you do not unknowingly settle for less than you deserve.
In a typical dog bite case, the types of compensation available for victims’ current and future losses will include:
- Coverage for past and future medical expenses
- Coverage for other out-of-pocket expenses
- Coverage for lost wages and lost future earning capacity
- Compensation for permanent disability and disfigurement
- Compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress and other forms of non-financial harm
Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites in Illinois
In most cases, seeking financial compensation for a dog bite involves filing a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company. Why? Because standard homeowner’s insurance policies include coverage for injuries caused by homeowners’ dogs. Typically, the policy limits for dog bites will provide sufficient coverage for victims’ medical expenses and other losses. However, if the amount of your losses exceeds the dog owner’s insurance coverage, you can still seek compensation from the dog’s owner directly.
Since most dog bite cases involve insurance claims, most cases also involve out-of-court insurance settlements. While an insurance settlement may be your best option, we will never recommend that you accept a settlement unless it fairly compensates you for your injury-related losses. As trial lawyers, we routinely represent clients in courtroom litigation, and we will not hesitate to take a dog owner or its insurance company to court to collect the compensation you deserve.
5 Key Facts about Illinois’s Dog Bite Law
In comparison to dog bite laws in other states, Illinois’s dog bite law (510 ILCS 5/16) is particularly favorable for those who have suffered serious injuries in vicious dog attacks. The law states:
“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.”
What exactly does this mean? If you or a family member has been bitten, here is what you need to know:
1. The Law Applies to Bites and Other Attack-Related Injuries.
While some states’ laws only provide compensation for injuries from dog bites, Illinois’s statute applies to all attack-related injuries. So, if you or your child sustained injuries in a fall caused by an attacking dog, you are entitled to compensation for your fall-related injuries even if the dog did not actually bite.
2. The Law Applies Unless the Dog Attacked Due to Provocation or You Were Trespassing.
The only exceptions that Illinois’s dog attack recognizes are for attacks due to provocation and for injuries sustained while trespassing. Unless it can be shown that you provoked the dog into attacking or were not in a place that you “may lawfully be,” you are entitled to compensation under Illinois law.
3. Dog Owners are “Strictly Liable” for Attack-Related Injuries.
Another key fact about Illinois’s dog attack statute is that it employs the standard known as “strict liability.” While most injury victims need to prove negligence in order to recover compensation, in a dog bite case it is enough simply to show that you were attacked by someone else’s dog.
4. Illinois Does Not Have a “One Free Bite” Rule.
Some states follow what is known as the “one free bite” rule. But, not Illinois. Consistent with the strict liability nature of Illinois’s dog attack statute, even if the dog that attacked you had never attacked previously, you are still entitled to financial compensation.
5. Dog Attack Victims are Entitled to Full Compensation for Their Injuries and Losses.
Finally, Illinois’s dog bite statute provides compensation for “the full amount of the injury” resulting from an attack. Here, “injury” refers not only to physical injury, but to the financial and non-financial losses listed above as well.
Contact Our Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers about Your Case
If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing a claim for injuries sustained due to a dog bite or other dog attack, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced injury lawyers in confidence, please call (312) 795-9595 or submit your case online today.