According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. Bites from dogs or other animals can result in serious injuries, and it is not uncommon for a bite wound to become infected. If this has happened to you in Illinois, you may be wondering whether you can file a claim against the person(s) responsible for the animal. You can, but there are some limitations.
Illinois law recognizes dog bite claims so long as the injured party is able to make certain showings. The applicable law, called the Illinois Animal Control Act, requires the injured party to show (1) that he or she was conducting himself or herself peaceably and lawfully on the premises at the time of the bite or attack, and (2) that the animal bit or attacked the injured party without provocation. Except for burglars or trespassers, most people will be able to demonstrate that they were on the premises lawfully. Establishing that the attack occurred without provocation may prove more difficult because, in some instances, “provocation” can include unintentional acts, such as accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail.
If you can meet the prerequisites stated by the Animal Control Act, you are eligible to make a claim, and the animal’s owner or guardian is subject to potential legal responsibility for your injuries.
What Are the Next Steps After Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Illinois?
Being able to make a dog bite claim is just the first step in the process. Many other elements will factor into whether you can achieve a successful outcome. For instance, you must properly identify the dog’s owner and his or her relevant insurance coverage. Regardless of whether you can resolve the matter directly with the insurance company or whether you are required to file a lawsuit, you will need to be prepared to convince the decision-maker (an adjuster, arbitrator, judge or jury) that the other party is legally responsible. Evidence of the full extent of your damages – including medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and psychological distress – is also essential to recovering an amount of compensation that is fair. Finally, the law limits the time you have for taking action. This time period is known as the statute of limitations, and in Illinois, the statute of limitations for animal bites is two years. If you have not either resolved your claim or filed a lawsuit within this two-year period, you will be forever barred from taking legal action.
Given these challenges, many victims of animal bites or attacks choose to obtain sound legal representation to help them with their claims. At GWC Injury Lawyers, we have several experienced Chicago dog bite lawyers who can provide you with the sound legal representation you need to succeed in your claim.
If you have suffered an unprovoked dog bite or an animal attack of some other kind, please contact Illinois’ largest Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firm today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with an attorney. Call GWC at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.