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Liability for Animal Attacks in Illinois

Posted on in Personal Injury

animal attacks in Illinois, McHenry County Personal Injury LawayerAlthough family pets and domestic animals are practically a United States tradition, keeping domestic animals does have its dangers. Even seemingly docile animals can turn dangerous, and when that happens it can result in serious injury to innocent bystanders. In fact, last year Illinois was ranked as the second highest state in the nation for dog bite injuries according to statistics compiled by State Farm.

Fortunately, when these sorts of dog bite injuries occur, the law in Illinois does provide a remedy. Victims may recover for their damages from dog owners provided that their case meets certain requirements.

Responsibility for Dog Bites

The Illinois Animal Control Act holds dog owners responsible for injuries that their animals cause if the injured party can prove three factors. First, the person must show that he or she had a lawful right to be where they were. This Act does not protect people who are trespassing. Second, the individual must show that he or she was “peaceably conducting” themselves at the time of the attack. Third, he or she must actually be able to demonstrate that their injuries were the result of the dog attack.

That explanation also glosses over an important point: who qualifies as the dog's owner. The phrase suggests the person who actually has a property interest in the dog, but the statute specially defines the term to be broader. It ends up meaning something much more like the person who had or should have had control over the dog at the time of the attack. Hence, this can mean people such as dog-sitters or even veterinarians who fail to exercise adequate control over the animals in their care can end up being responsible for harm that they cause. This definition makes some degree of sense because it ensures that the person who is best positioned to control the dog is the one paying for the damage.

Available Defenses

The law does provide certain defenses to dog owners whose dogs attack someone. The most common defenses are ones that attempt to knock out one of the three pillars that an injured party needs to prove to prevail. For instance, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff had no right to be on their land, then the plaintiff cannot prevail. Similarly, the defendant can attempt to show that the plaintiff was taunting or tormenting the dog in some way. A dog owner is not responsible for a dog attack if the dog was provoked by the person it eventually attacked.

Dog attacks can lead to severe, expensive injuries. If you or one of your loved ones has recently been the victim of an attack by a dog or other animal, contact a skilled McHenry County personal injury attorney today to get help seeking the full, fair compensation that you deserve.

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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