If you are the victim of a serious dog bite injury, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Stein & Shulman are here to help. Our team has over four decades of combined legal experience, and we have helped clients in the Chicago area recover millions of dollars in damages.
Illinois law allows dog bite victims to seek compensation from the person responsible for the dog in question, but, as you are no doubt aware, just because the law is on your side does not mean you will be treated fairly by the judicial system. This is why it is crucial to have one of our firm’s experienced dog bite attorneys at your side.
We’re Not Talking About Nips From A Neighbor’s Puppy
Most of us, especially those of us who live with dogs, have experienced an occasional nip from a teething puppy, or even a full-grown dog who gets too into a game of fetch. Serious dog bites are altogether different. If an adult dog bites with aggression, the victim’s injuries may cause severe, permanent damage, or even death. Serious dog bite injuries include ones that cause:
- Deep puncture wounds;
- Excessive bleeding;
- Muscle tears or even bone damage;
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement;
- Prolonged impairment or loss of function;
- Infectious diseases, such as MRSA or even rabies; or
Each year, over 4.5 million Americans, half of them children, suffer such injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered such an injury, it is your right to seek compensation from the dog’s owner, or the person responsible for the dog at the time of the bite.
Who’s Holding The Leash?
In most dog bite cases, the owner of a dog is the person who is financially responsible for that dog’s misconduct. If the dog’s owner is a child, that child’s parents or guardians are the ones responsible.
However, if the dog was under the care of a vet or veterinary technician, a groomer, professional dog walker, or the employee of a shelter, pet store, or kennel when you were bitten, the person the court perceives as having control of the dog will be held responsible.
If you were bitten by a stray dog, the owner of the property where the bite occurred may be held responsible. When a property owner knows there is a dog living on his or her property, and does nothing about it, he or she may be responsible for the dog’s actions. This is particularly true if the dog was known to be vicious.
We Bite Back
When you hire an attorney from Stein & Shulman to handle your dog bite case, you are hiring a fighter. We will battle with the insurance company covering the person responsible for the dog to get you the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies do not make money by quickly paying out claims. They make money by denying claims whenever possible and trying to settle claims they cannot in good conscience deny for pennies on the dollar.
As your attorney, it is our job to coax insurance companies to the negotiating table, and persuade them to make a serious offer that fairly compensates you for the injuries you have suffered. If that fails, we take them and the person responsible for the dog that bit you to court.
To make our case, we gather evidence that demonstrates the severity of the injury, and the circumstances surrounding the dog’s attack. In a typical dog bite case, the Stein & Shulman team will:
- Investigate the precise circumstances of the case;
- Thoroughly examine medical and police reports;
- Consult, as necessary, with medical specialists and animal behaviorists; and
- Bolster your court case with the testimony these experts provide.
We do this because we need to be able to prove:
- That the owner or manager was negligent in training or restraining the animal;
- That the dog attacked you without provocation;
- That you suffered serious injuries as a result;
- That you were in a place you were allowed to be (e.g. not a burglar or peeping Tom);
- That the dog that bit you was not a law enforcement dog performing its duty; and
- That you did not consciously “assume risk”, for instance by being a professional dog trainer or veterinarian.
In Illinois, there is no “one free bite” rule, so there is no need to prove that the dog was vicious, or had attacked someone before.
Illinois Comparative Negligence Law
Gathering evidence is also important because Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that the amount of compensation you are eligible for can be reduced based on your actions at the time of the dog’s attack.
If, for example, you are found to be 20 percent to blame for the dog’s actions because you didn’t ask the owner for permission before trying to pet it, you will lose 20 percent of the compensation the court awards. So, if you are awarded $100,000, you will actually receive $80,000.
If you are found to be more than 51 percent to blame for the dog’s attack, you will receive no compensation at all.
Under Illinois law, you may be found more at fault than the dog if you provoked the dog by taunting it, physically harming it, frightening or abusing it, or disturbing it while it was protecting its puppies.
Fighting For Your Full Monetary Compensation
Dog attacks can leave horrendous disfigurement, scarring, internal injuries, broken or crushed bones, amputated fingers or hands, and dislocated joints if the victim survives the attack. Dogs tend to attack children on the head or neck; grasping the child in its jaws and thrashing. Adults tend to suffer bite injuries on their limbs.
No matter what sort of injury you or your loved one has suffered, our legal system is designed to put you in the position you would have been in if the accident had never occurred.
The Stein & Shulman team will gather documents that explicitly enumerate your:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Decreased future earnings; and
- Property damage.
We will also talk to experts who can estimate a fair compensation for non-economic losses like:
- Physical pain;
- Emotional anguish;
- Permanent disfigurement or disability;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If we can prove that the dog owner deliberately bred the dog to be vicious or facilitated its attack, Illinois law allows us to seek punitive damages as well. Punitive damages have a twofold purpose: to punish the defendant and to discourage others from engaging in similarly egregious behavior.
We Do Not Get Paid Unless Our Clients Do
Stein & Shulman represents dog bite victims in the Chicago area on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not get paid unless you do, and our fee will always be just a portion of what we recover on your behalf.
We will not pressure you to settle for the first low-ball offer an insurance company throws at you just so we can cash a check. We will aggressively fight for every penny you deserve because we know you need that money to fully recover from your injuries.
Contact Our Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog and suffered serious injuries, we are here to help. Whether you are ready to take legal action right now, or are just curious about what options are available to you, we are ready to take your call. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.