If you are bitten by a dog or cat you should immediately seek medical attention. After your injuries have been treated you should find out the owner of the animal. The owner of the animal maybe liable for the injuries that their dog/cat causes.The standard in the State of Illinois is negligence what this means is that you do not have to prove that the animal had a “dangerous propensity” or had done this before, or knew the dog/cat was dangerous. This is a very important distinction from other states and a reason why you need an attorney who knows the laws as they relate to animal bites/scratches etc.
The Law is strict liability upon the animal owners whose animals bite or attack others. This means the owner is legally responsible for an animal bite, regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong with respect to protecting others from attack. Even if the owner had no reason to know that his or her animal was dangerous, if the animal bit someone, the owner would still be liable.
Potential Defenses in Dog/Animal Bite Cases
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An injured person is contributorily negligent when he or she fails to exercise the degree of care for his or her safety that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances.
For example, if a person climbs over a fence and is bitten by a dog on the other side, a jury could decide not to hold the dog owner liable if they believed that a normal reasonable person would not have climbed over the wall in the first place. To use another example, if the owner puts up a “Beware of Dog” sign, and a person ignores this sign and gets bitten by the dog, the owner might not be responsible for that person’s injury. If the animal owner is claiming either “assumption of risk” or “contributory negligence,” however, the owner has the burden of convincing the jury of these arguments.
An animal owner can also argue that the injured person provoked the animal, and this may be a way for the owner to avoid liability. For example, if a person makes a threatening gesture toward an animal, and the animal attacks, this could negate the owner’s liability.
Other Potential Responsible Parties
Animal owners are not the only people who can be held responsible for animal bites. Someone other than the animal’s owner could be held liable for an animal bite.
Animal Keepers: Anyone who is responsible for the care or custody of an animal may be considered an owner or keeper and can be held responsible for an animal bite. Examples include kennels, a pound, or an animal sitter.
Parents of Minors: Even if a person under 18 years of age owns the animal at issue, in many states an injured person can bring a legal claim against the minor’s parents, even if the parents had no direct involvement with the animal.
Property Owners: A property owner can be liable for injuries caused by an animal that the property owner allowed onto his or her property.
Landlords: If an apartment landlord knew, or should have known, that a tenant owned a dangerous animal, the landlord may also be liable for animal bite injuries.
People who own or keep wild animals are often subject to strict liability in the same way that dog owners are responsible for dog bites. The reason for this is that the act of keeping an animal that is potentially uncontrollable and vicious is considered inherently dangerous. Thus, even if the owner of a wild animal goes to extreme measures to protect people from his animal, such as building high fences, if the animal does end up injuring someone, the owner can be held liable regardless of the effort he or she took to protect the public.
What Damages Can a Bite Victim Recover?
Depending on the seriousness of injuries resulting from an animal attack, a bite victim may be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damage. In some instances, a bite victim may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are awarded to punish someone for his or her behavior.
The Law Offices of Michael Brennan has extensive experience in representing victims of animal bites or attacks. A recent case that was handled by our office is listed in our case studies and details our results for a client who was injured by a dog bite.
If you’ve been injured in an animal attack, meet with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
You have a limited time to file your animal attack case and you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Michael Brennan is a former Illinois State’s Attorney with more than 24 years of trial experience. His tough, results-driven approach will ensure that you get the highest level of compensation for yourself and your family.
With offices conveniently located in Orland Park, Illinois, as well as downtown Chicago, personal injury attorney Michael Brennan requires no fees until you achieve your compensation settlement.
Call us for a free consultation in regards to your personal injury case and the possibilities for compensation.