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An individual who has been attacked by an animal could attest to how terrifying the experience can be, and dog bites can be particularly unsettling given the love and affection many people have for their pets. In addition to the emotional stress, the financial burden from ensuing medical bills could be exhausting for any individual and their family.

However, if you were injured due to an animal bite, you may be eligible to seek compensation with a Dolton dog bite lawyer’s help. A dedicated personal injury attorney could assist you in regaining financial control and exploring all your legal options.

Animal Bite Statutes

510 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/16 allows an individual to bring a claim against the owner of an animal for damages caused by an attack. In order to bring a claim under this statute, the plaintiff must prove the following:

  • The plaintiff was in a place where they were lawfully allowed to be
  • The animal in question, without incitement, attacked or attempted to attack the plaintiff
  • The plaintiff suffered damages due to the attack

Many states require that the owner must be on notice that the dog is dangerous before a plaintiff could bring a claim for damages. However, Illinois state law does not require that a dog’s owner have any knowledge that their pet is prone to biting or attacking others.

In other words, the owner of a dog in Illinois is strictly liable for any injuries that the dog causes to others, so long as the plaintiff could prove each element of the statute above. A seasoned Dolton dog bite attorney could help determine if an injured individual’s claim has legal merit.

Consequences of Filing a Lawsuit

The law requires anyone who sustains a dog bite injury to make a report to the police or animal control. They also have a claim against the insurance company for the person who owns the dog. There is no requirement that someone present a claim for damages following a dog bite. However, when someone is bitten by a dog and does not pursue a claim for damages, the only person who benefits is the insurance company. A claim for injuries from a dog bite is not a direct claim against the owner, since they have insurance to cover any type of injury.

The potential consequence for a dog that bites someone is largely left up to animal control. They have the right to euthanize a vicious animal and have much discretion in making this determination. In most cases, animal control will keep the dog in quarantine for a period of time and then release the dog back to the owner. However, if the injuries are particularly vicious or the dog has a history of fighting, animal control can euthanize it on a case-by-case basis. The owner might also choose that route if they believe they have no other option. If someone is concerned about the consequences for the animal, they could talk it over with a dog bite attorney in Dolton.

The Statute of Limitations in Dolton

The State of Illinois sets a strict time frame in which individuals may be able to file their claim. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Dolton is two years, according to 735 ILCS 5/13-202.

Injured individuals must file their claim or settle their claim out of court within this time frame. If a potential plaintiff fails to handle the claim within the time frame, they may not be eligible to seek compensation. It could be best to speak to an experienced lawyer in Dolton to determine the designated time frame to file a dog bite claim and ensure all relevant documentation is filed on time.

Statutory Defenses Against Dog Bite Liability

There are a few common defenses a dog owner may bring against a civil lawsuit claiming their dog attacked someone else. First, the owner could claim that the injured individual was trespassing or was in an unlawful place. For instance, if the plaintiff jumped an enclosed fence and walked inside someone’s home without permission, they could not bring a claim forward if the homeowner’s dog attacked them because it was unlawful for them to have been there.

Another defense may be to claim that the plaintiff provoked the dog. For example, if the plaintiff attacked the dog in some manner and the dog bit them in response, the plaintiff would likely not be able to recover damages. A dedicated Dolton dog bite lawyer could help prove a dog owner’s liability and help combat any allegations against the plaintiff.

Consult with a Dolton Dog Bite Attorney 

An animal bite could do more than just harm you physically and emotionally—it could affect you financially as well. Fortunately, there are legal options available to you if a dog bite has left you financially unstable.

A Dolton dog bite lawyer could assist injured individuals throughout the civil litigation process, from initially filing their claim all the way settlement negotiations or a court case. Call today to learn about how you may be eligible to seek compensation and get started on your claim.