Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers
Holding Illinois dog owners liable for the harm and scarring their pets cause
Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. For most people, that’s true. But some dogs have bad days or bad temperaments. Owners are responsible for the actions of the dogs. Dog owners in Chicago have a duty to warn visitors they have a dog and to restrain dogs that are aggressive. Dog bites can cause puncture wounds, infections, scarring, diseases, and even death.
At Gainsberg Law, P.C., our Chicago dog bite attorneys understand the premises liability laws and other dog bite laws that govern how dog owners must protect Illinois residents. Whether a dog bite happens to a child or an adult, we work to prove the dog owner failed to meet these laws or failed to comply with standard behavior for dog owners. We seek damages for any surgeries needed, amputation or loss of limb, scarring, physical pain, emotional suffering, medical bills, and wage loss.
How can we help?
According to dogsbite.org, about 1,000 Americans seek emergency care for serious dog bite injuries every day. Yearly, more than 12,400 citizens are hospitalized due to dog bite injuries.
Petpedia states that:
- There were more than 90 million dogs in the United States in 2019/2020.
- More than 70 percent of dog bites occur because the dog isn’t neutered.
- 38 people died due to dog bites in 2018 – 26 of these by pit bulls. In 2019, 33 of 46 dog-attack deaths were caused by pit bulls.
- In 2019, 5,803 postal workers were attacked by dogs.
- Dog attacks increased by 300 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Rabies is generally not a problem in locations where 70 percent of the dogs are vaccinated.
Children are especially prone to dog bites because children, especially toddlers, can’t appreciate that dogs may be dangerous. They can’t understand that a dog can be easily irritated, anxious, or afraid which may cause the dog to bite. Children just see an animal that they can pet and play with.
The elderly are also prone to dog bites because they cannot maneuver out of the way of an aggressive dog in the same manner as younger adults can.
According to the American Medical Veterinary Association (AMVA), dogs usually bite due to some type of stress, because they’re scared, or because they feel threatened. They may bite to protect something of value such as food, a toy, or their puppies. Sick dogs may bite because they want to be left alone or because they’re in pain. Some dogs may bite during friendly play. Generally, it’s not a good idea to wrestle or play tug-of-war with your dog.
The AMVA recommends that pet owners educate themselves and their children about how to respect animals. Children should understand that “it’s not okay to run up to a dog, even if that dog is on a leash and with its owner; let them know to approach dogs calmly.” The owner should always be present when children want to be with a dog. When outdoors, dogs should be on a leash. Children should be taught to stay away from dogs they don’t know. Inside, dogs (when there are children in the home) should be kept inside with the use of a baby gate so the dog can be isolated without feeling imprisoned.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) states that:
- The top five dogs known to bite are pit bull, mixed breed, German shepherd, terrier, and rottweiler.
- The bottom five breeds for bite risk are Dalmatian, pointer, Great Dane, Pekingese, and Spitz.
- “Dogs with short, wide heads who weighed between 66 and 100 pounds were the most likely to bite.”
If you or your child was bitten by a dog the best course of action is to seek help from a local emergency room. While some basic first aid should be used, such as washing the wound and using a clean cloth to slow the bleeding, ER doctors should be ready to diagnose and treat the following types of dog bite injuries:
- Lacerations. These injuries can penetrate the skin, possibly damaging the muscle and bone. ER doctors and surgeons should work to close these wounds and treat any loss of blood.
- Puncture wounds. These injuries are often deep and carry the risk of infection.
- Avulsion injuries. Dogs that rip the skin off a victim may cause scarring and disfigurement. These injuries may be life-threatening.
- Crush injuries. Some ferocious dogs may break any one of a person’s bones. The skull of a child could be crushed by a dog bite.
- Rabies. The Mayo Clinic states that rabies is a deadly virus that can be transmitted through a bite from a dog’s saliva to a human. Dog bite victims in Chicago who may have rabies will receive a series of shots (vaccinations) that are quite painful. When symptoms appear, it’s often too late. Rabies can be fatal.
- Tetanus. A dog bite can cause tetanus due to a break in the skin. Everyone in Chicago should consult with their doctor about getting up-to-date tetanus shots. Tetanus can cause serious health complications and fatalities.
- Infections. ER doctors will likely clean the dog bite wound and prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
- Scarring and disfigurement. Dog bites that rip open the skin or cause deep wounds may cause disfigurement. You or your child may require skin grafts and plastic surgery. Scarring and disfigurement often cause emotional trauma which necessitates psychological counseling.
Dog bites can also cause nerve, ligament, muscle, tissue, and bone damage. Chicago dog bite victims may lose motor function and may become paralyzed.
Dog bites can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, guilt, fear, and other emotional disorders.
Illinois is a strict liability state. This means that unless you provoked the dog, the owner is liable if a dog “attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person” anywhere you have a right to be provided you’re there peacefully. Liability means that the dog owner should pay your civil damages, which include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of function, and loss of quality of life.
Generally, young children are presumed not to be capable of provoking a dog.
Our Chicago dog bite attorneys understand that most homeowners have homeowner’s insurance and most renters have renter’s insurance. The insurance normally will pay for the damages up to the policy limits if the owner is liable for a dog bite.
In some cases, the owners of the property where the bite occurred – including business owners who allow pets in the workplace – can also be sued even if they are different than the dog owner. In Illinois, it is generally not a defense that the dog owner didn’t know that the dog had a propensity to bite.
In addition to strict liability law and premises liability law, the Illinois Animal Control Act provides that:
- Dogs that bite should be tested for rabies.
- Stray dogs may be impounded or even put to sleep if the owner cannot be found.
- If the dog is found to be “vicious,” it can be neutered, put to sleep, or ordered that it be enclosed.
- Dogs may be ordered to be muzzled.
- Dogs not on the owner’s property may be required to be on a leash.
- The dog may be required to attend obedience school.
In addition to homeowners and property owners, Chicago residents may be bitten by a K-9 dog in almost every state, according to USA Today: “Dogs used in arrests are bred and trained to have a bite strong enough to punch through sheet metal. Their bites can be more like shark attacks, according to experts and medical researchers. When they are used on people, they can leave harrowing scars, torn muscles, and dangerous infections.”
USA Today also reported that many of the victims were not violent. Many, if not most, of the victims are Black males.
At Gainsberg Law, we file federal and state civil actions against the police when K-9 dogs bite if the bite is not justified (it’s usually not).
Service dogs are generally used to help people with physical difficulties while emotional support dogs are used to help people with emotional difficulties. This distinction can be critical. Generally, victims cannot file claims against the owners of certified service dogs but they can file personal injury claims against the owners of emotional support dogs.
Gainsberg Law meets parents, children, and adults at our office located at 77 W Washington Street, Suite 1215, right in downtown Chicago. There are two bus stops close by. Our Chicago dog bite lawyers do speak with clients by phone, through a video conference, or at a hospital by appointment.
We understand how frightening dog bites are. You worry about how you’ll pay your bills and whether you or your child will be healthy again. Your trust in dogs has been denied. We’ll answer all your questions and navigate calmly through each step of the claims process.
Speak with a skilled Chicago dog bite attorney by making an appointment now
If you or a loved one was attacked or bitten by a dog, you have rights. Dog owners in Illinois are strictly liable to protect most citizens if their dog bites. Our Chicago dog bite lawyers work to prove the attack occurred and that your injuries resulted from the attack. Prompt attention is necessary to be able to hold the dog owners responsible and also to treat the wounds. For help from an experienced lawyer, call Gainsberg Law or reach us through our contact form to schedule a free consultation