Can I Sue for a Dog Bite Injury?

This is one of those questions that nobody ever thinks to ask until it happens to them.   In Illinois, the answer is yes.    The law has decided that the owner of an animal should be responsible for the damage when the dog bites an innocent person.    Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

The “One Bite” Rule vs. “Provocation”

In past years, dog bite injuries were governed by the “one bite” rule.    The idea was that the first time your pet bit somebody, they owner had no reason to know that it might bite somebody.    So – the first victim was unable to make a recovery.   More recently, Illinois law has changed – and now animal owners are responsible for any bite by an animal unless the animal was “provoked.”    Insurance companies for animal owners often make the argument that the animal was provoked in order to avoid paying for the damage.     In most cases, however, that argument can be refuted by a competent lawyer.

Easy Cases?   Hardly.

The real difficulty with animal bite cases is that it can be difficult to recover an amount that matches up with the injury.   Insurance companies look at a number of factors when evaluating how much to pay somebody who is injured.   Traditionally, one of the factors they consider is the amount of the medical bills and the extent of the treatment.   With an animal bite, however, there may not be much treatment.    As a result, the offer from the insurance company is often low.    But the amount of treatment received, is not really a good measure of the damage.

What damage is caused by a scar?

When it comes to dog bites, the damage often involves a scar.   Obtaining professional photos of the scar is one critical element.    Knowing the aspirations of the victim can also be important.    For an aspiring model – a scar can be a devastating injury.   For others, it may not be a big deal at all.    A good lawyer may also spend some time determining the options for reconstructive surgery or scar revision procedures.    Even if the client does not plan to get these treatments now – they should make a recovery that will cover the cost of these procedures – in case they change their mind later.   When the injury is to a child – the doctors often will not do a scar revision until they have stopped growing.   In that case, you may need to consider whether settlement will cover the cost of having that procedure in the future – and accounting for inflation.

For information about dog bite cases handled by Stotis & Baird Chartered – click here.    For information about recent verdicts and settlements at Stois & Baird Chartered click here.

Eric Parker and the law firm of Stotis & Baird Chartered represent victims of animal bites and other injuries in  Chicago, Cicero, Palatine, Rosemont, Schaumburg, Melrose Park, Harvey and the rest of the Chicagoland area.    For more information about our services, or about animal bite injuries, please feel free to call us at 312-461-1000 or by e-mail at eparker@stotis-baird.com.   You can also learn more about personal injury lawsuits, and other legal topics at our web site, www.stotisandbaird.com