It is estimated that there are nearly 85 million dogs living in U.S. homes which has resulted in 4.5 million people—mostly children—being bitten every year. Nearly 1 in 5 people who have been bitten by dogs need medical attention. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a majority of these biting incidents are preventable.
It’s a common refrain. “Don’t worry, my dog doesn’t bite” quickly becomes “My dog has never done that before.” Fortunately, in Illinois, you don’t have to prove that a dog was vicious or had previously attacked someone when alleging that a dog owner was negligent.
Merely being charged or barked at by a dog when you are acting in an appropriate manner and minding your own business can be scary. But actually being bitten can be very painful and have long-term physical and mental repercussions.
In some cases, those who have suffered a dog bite injury may pursue compensation from the person who owns or is responsible for the dog. How much you can recover will depend on the specific facts of your case.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, once you’ve sought medical attention, speak with an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as you can. An attorney can help you with any insurance claims or if necessary, a legal case.
What Dog Bite Injuries Can I Receive Compensation For?
If bitten by a dog that was not properly controlled or contained by its owner, there are several types of damages to which you could be entitled. These include all medical expenses related to the injury and any lost wages from missing work.
Other damages may include expenses for any cosmetic surgery required by the injury and counseling costs for dealing with fear and trauma caused by the injury.
You can seek damages for non-financial losses as well. These typically include:
- Emotional distress caused by injuries and scarring
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- The loss of consortium
- The loss of enjoyment of life.
Illinois also allows for punitive damages in cases where the dog owner acted in an especially egregious manner. For example, if the dog was intentionally bred to be vicious and aggressive or if the owner facilitated the attack that caused the injury. Punitive damages are intended to both punish the negligent dog owner and deter others from acting in the same way.
Illinois Comparative Negligence—Your Behavior Matters
Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state which means any award you may receive can be reduced based on your actions when the bite occurred. Let’s say you didn’t ask the owner’s permission before you went to pet the dog and were found to be 20% to blame for the bite. That means your compensation will decrease by 20%. So if you were awarded $150,000, that amount will go down to $120,000.
A person who is found to be more than 51 % to blame for the dog’s attack will not receive any compensation for their injury.
The dog owner won’t be held liable for injuries caused by provoking the dog. Provocation would include behaviors like taunting or teasing the dog, scaring it, or physically harming it.
Call a Chicago Dog Bite Attorney with Questions
Dogs are everyone’s best friend until they aren’t. If you’ve been bitten you could be facing a serious injury, a long recovery, and missed time from work.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help. They can assess the facts of your case and help you pursue an insurance claim or a legal action if warranted.