Illinois Dog Bite Laws

Like most people who like taking leisurely walks in a park or in a residential neighborhood, you will no doubt run into people walking a dog. Dogs, if not trained or controlled property, can bite if they are provoked are sense fear.  Illinois, like many states, has laws governing dog ownership, responsibility and, specifically, rules pertaining to dog bites. It’s important for dog owners and the general public to understand what those responsibilities are. In this blog we will outline the rules in Illinois that will shed light on not only dog owner responsibilities but also the rights of dog bite victims.

Strict Liability

Strict liability is a rule which places blame on the dog owner regardless if the owner had knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite. The exception to this rule is provocation.


If a victim displays aggression to the dog or does something to the make the dog react resulting in a dog bite, then the provocation is the cause of the dog bite, and a victim cannot hold a dog owner strictly liable for their dog bite injuries.


There are certain societal rules in place that require people not to cause harm to others. Negligence refers to accidental or unintentional conduct that may cause harm to another. Aside from strict liability, a dog owner can also be found negligent if they fail to control their dog and results in a victim getting bitten.

Leash Laws

Some municipalities have leash laws requiring dog owners to have their dogs leashed at all time while in public spaces. A violation of a leash law can not only lead to fines and penalties but also a basis for a civil action in the event of a dog bite incident.

The Illinois “Animal Control Act”

Illinois is one of many states that has an animal control act (510 ILCS 5/1). This law specifies the rules governing not only dog ownership, but other animals owned by people as well.  According to the act, the owner of a dog or animal who attacks, attempts to attack or injures a person without provocation may be liable for all damages that the injured person sustains.

Landlord Liability

In some cases, a landlord may be responsible for injuries caused by a dog. For example, if the landlord was aware of the tenant/dog owners’ dangerous tendencies and failed to take precautionary measures resulting in a dog bite, the landlord could be held responsible along with the dog owner.

Statute of Limitations

Like many personal injury cases, dog bites in Illinois have a 2-year statute of limitation meaning that a claim must be resolved or a lawsuit filed within two years from the date of the incident (cases involving minors are tolled until two years after the minor turns 18). Failure to resolve or file suit within two years may result in the loss of the right to seek compensation.

Learn More About Illinois Dog Bite Laws

Being aware of the Illinois dog bite laws is crucial for both owners and the public. And although dog ownership carries significant responsibility, the public should also be aware of the rules to ensure to safety of all. If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite, its important to consult with a trusted dog bit attorney who can provide guidance and counseling based on your specific circumstances. McCready Law is here to help.