In 2019, Illinois ranked among the top five states in both the number of dog-related liability insurance claims and the amount those claims paid out, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a dog bite, the laws in Illinois often make it easier to recover compensation than might be the case in other states. However, “easier” does not mean “guaranteed.” Proving that the dog bit you and how much compensation you deserve can be difficult. Then, you have to negotiate with an insurance company for a payout. This can be especially trying when you are still recovering from injuries, and it’s the reason many dog bite victims hire legal counsel to help them.
An Illinois dog bite lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can evaluate your case and review your options for recovering compensation. In fact, they will do everything for free. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay us anything until we recover compensation for you. This makes it easier for victims who are already struggling with medical bills to get the compensation they need.
To schedule your free consultation, call a member of our team today at (800) 816-0755. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get to work.
Illinois Dog Bite Laws
Many states only allow dog bite victims to sue the dog owner if the dog owner knew of the dog’s history with violence—more specifically, if they ever bit someone in the past. In other words, to successfully sue a dog owner for your injuries, you have to prove they knew the dog was dangerous. This is often referred to as the “one free bite” rule.
That is not the case in Illinois, per 510 Illinois Compiled Statutes §16. The statute says that if a dog bites a person without being provoked, and the person was on public property or on private property legally, then the dog’s owner will be responsible for paying for the dog bite victim’s damages. So, you generally have to prove the following circumstances in order to recover compensation for your dog bite injury:
- The dog bit you and caused your injuries
- You did not provoke the dog
- You were at the scene where the dog bite happened legally
There might be some barriers to overcome in your case. For example, proving that you did not provoke the dog can be difficult if the owner claims the dog was startled. Typically, the standard is if a “reasonable dog” would feel that they are being provoked. An example of this might be: If a dog is lying in the sun, a toddler plops onto it, and the startled dog responds by biting the child’s face, from the dog’s perspective, that is a reasonable response that absolves its owner of responsibility for the injury.
Also, if you were bitten by a dog as a guest of a renter, the renter’s landlord would not be responsible for your injuries. Instead, the renter would be. This becomes problematic when the dog owner does not have renter’s insurance because, typically, a homeowner’s insurance policy would pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
If you would like to discuss how your specific circumstances might affect your case, contact a member of our team today to see how an Illinois dog bite lawyer at the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you.
If you are bitten at another person’s home, that person’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will typically cover your injuries. According to the III, most homeowner’s insurance policies include between $100,000 and $300,000 in liability insurance, which, even at the low end, is more than double the amount of the average Illinois dog bite claim.
If there is no insurance policy to cover your damages, or your damages exceed the amount of the policy, you may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Illinois, there is no limit to the amount of either economic (tangible things such as medical expenses and lost wages) or noneconomic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish) you may pursue.
However, the state does apply a “comparative negligence” standard, which means that the amount you are eligible to recover declines in proportion to the degree of fault you are assigned, according to 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes §2-1116(c). In other words, if you are declared 20% at fault for the dog bite, your award will be reduced by 20%. If you are judged 51% at fault, you are ineligible to make a recovery.
The state’s statute of limitations gives you two years after the dog bite to file a lawsuit, according to 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes §13-202.
How We Can Help
Every dog bite case is different. If you were bitten by a stray, the most challenging aspect might be determining who was responsible for the dog—and thus, who should be held liable for your injuries. If a small child was the victim, you might have to demonstrate that the child did not provoke the dog, even inadvertently.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers never back down from tough cases, and we never stop fighting to protect your rights. We believe that if someone else caused your injuries, you should not have to pay for the consequences.
If you would like to speak to a member of the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm team to see how an Illinois dog bite lawyer can help you with your case, contact our offices today at (800) 816-0755. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us nothing upfront or out of pocket. We only take our attorney’s fees from a percentage of the settlement or judgment we win in your favor.