More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, and one in five requires medical attention. Most bite injuries happen to young children interacting with familiar dogs and can lead to long-term or permanent damage.
The experienced dog bite lawyers with Nessler & Associates can help you navigate Illinois law on dog bites, premises liability, and the liable party’s insurance coverage. A personal injury lawyer can help you get financial compensation for your medical bills and emotional trauma resulting from an attack by an aggressive dog by taking the appropriate legal action.
Illinois Dog Bites
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of dog bite claims in Illinois fell from 931 in 2015 to 844 in 2021, dropping it from the 2nd to 6th spot for states with most dog bite claims. While the number of claims has fallen, the average awards have risen from 33,385 to 56,292.
Illinois’ dog bite law imposes a heightened liability on owners, but not strict liability. For example, if the dog bites someone while in the custody of another caretaker, the owner will likely not face a penalty, but the caretaker might. The law requires dog owners to pay civil damages to anyone the dog bites when the person is legally permitted to be at the location, regardless of the dog’s bite history.
The law defines a dog bite as a seizure with teeth or jaws that nips, grips, wounds, or pierces the skin. It also includes the contact of the dog’s saliva with any break in the skin. Serious physical injury means a severe injury that poses a substantial risk of death, severe disfigurement, a long recovery, impairment of bodily function, or requires plastic surgery.\
Insurance for a Bite Injury Claim
A personal injury attorney with Nessler & Associates can help you hold a dog owner accountable for your bite wound through a homeowner’s insurance liability claim or legal action with a dog bite lawsuit. Any bite victim who requires medical attention is entitled to seek financial recovery for their medical bills and non-financial damages caused by a dog owner’s negligence.
The owner’s liability insurance company will cover damages up to policy limits for a dog bite sustained on private property. These limits typically range from $100,000 to $300,000. If your personal injury claim exceeds these limits, the owner may be responsible for the remainder of the damages. For this reason, many property owners get an umbrella policy from their insurance carriers.
Common Injuries in Animal Attacks
Dog bites were the 13th leading cause of nonfatal emergency department visits in 2018, a higher rate than motorcycle injuries. Bites to children lead to more severe injuries than bites to adults.
A 2019 study found that children had more head and neck bite injuries than older patients, who usually had arm injuries. Head and neck injuries pose a more significant risk of death and long-term impairment than bites in other locations.
Common physical injuries that lead to emergency room visits include:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Missing tissue
- Damaged tendons, ligaments, and muscles
Severe dog bites can lead to traumatic injuries, such as losing a digit or facial tissue. These injuries require emergency medical treatment and an evaluation by a plastic surgeon. After initial plastic surgery to reattach or realign tissue, you might need additional surgery if you suffer a bite infection.
Animal bites frequently lead to infection due to the concentration of bacteria in their mouths. Infection can impede your recovery process and worsen visible scarring. Infection can also lead to overproduction of collagen at the site and interfere with fibroblast function, a type of cell necessary for wound healing.
Even with the best reconstructive surgery, you might face permanent scarring and staggering medical expenses. After hospital treatment, you might require rehabilitation, occupational or physical therapy, mental health counseling, and medications.
Damages You Can Expect to Recover
The personal injury lawyers with Nessler & Associates have extensive experience calculating fair compensation. We examine your current costs to estimate future expenses for economic damages. We can work with medical and financial experts to determine your non-economic damages.
Illinois doesn’t place damage caps on compensatory awards in a personal injury lawsuit from an animal attack. This advantage allows our dog bite lawyers to help you receive maximum compensation for your damages.
Monetary losses you may recover include all of your medical expenses, including ambulance costs. They also include other injury-related damages, such as lost wages and out-of-pocket costs for medications and assistive devices.
You can collect additional damages in the form of lost earning capacity if your injury prevents you from returning to work in a job that provides the same income you had before the bite incident.
Dog bite lawyers can hold the pet owner responsible for the non-monetary consequences of your physical injuries. Some damages that might apply:
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional scarring
- Fear of dogs
- Mental anguish
- Chronic pain
- Loss of function of a body part
- Physical pain and suffering
- Effects of permanent injuries on your ability to lead your everyday life
Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the personal injury claims process. We understand how your injuries impact your life and fight to get you fair compensation.
What to Do if You Suffer or Witness a Dog Attack
If you are the victim of or witness to a dog bite, you should know what steps to take to protect your physical and financial health. The following actions can help you receive necessary medical care and provide proof of the incident for you to use in a dog bite claim.
Divert the Dog’s Attention
If the dog owner isn’t getting the animal under control, try to divert the dog’s attention. If you are a witness, try to get the dog to focus on something away from the victim. Remain calm and ask the owner to remove the dog from the area.
Apply First Aid
If the dog bites a child on the head or neck and shakes them, keep the child from moving and dial 911 immediately. If you have to reposition the child to protect their airway, try to keep their head and neck stable.
Apply pressure to a bleeding wound with a clean towel or cloth. If the injury is on an arm or leg, elevate it above the level of the heart. This step helps slow the bleeding.
Have paramedics wrap tissue that has been torn free in saline-soaked gauze and place it in a plastic bag or put the tissue in a saline-filled bag. Place the bag on ice and transport it with the victim.
Seek Medical Treatment
Go to an emergency department or urgent care center to get the wounds evaluated and treated, even if they seem minor, to help prevent possible infections. The health care provider who treats you can clean the wound and tell you the signs of infection to watch for so you can seek further treatment if necessary.
This step allows you to prove the timing of a dog bite and document the extent of the injury with medical records.
Contact the Police or Animal Control
If a dog bites you and causes an injury, you must file a report with the police or animal control. This action helps establish the attack’s time, date, and location. It should also help identify anyone who witnessed the attack.
Illinois’ dog bite statute requires you or another party to contact an animal control officer, who will impound the dog for observation. Contact the authorities within 24 hours of the incident or as soon as possible. The animal control department will use the services of a trained veterinarian or animal behaviorist to determine the level of danger the dog presents.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney
The skilled personal injury lawyers with Nessler & Associates have extensive experience with dog bite settlements. We can explain your options for a fair financial recovery during the initial consultation. We will also explain the claims process and what you can expect regarding a possible settlement amount or damages to claim in a dog bite lawsuit.
These actions can prevent you or the victim from suffering further harm and help with getting financial compensation.
Get Help for Your Dog Bite Injuries
The experienced attorneys at Nessler & Associates operate on a contingency fee basis so that you can access high-quality legal representation regardless of your income. We have protected the rights of victims of negligence and misconduct for over three decades.
We hold dog owners liable for the damages their negligence causes. In a personal injury claim, we will seek maximum compensation for your physical and psychological injuries. Call our legal team at (800) 727-8010 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.