Hamilton & Antonsen
Joliet Dog Bite Attorney
Representing Injury Victims from dog bites in Joliet, Illinois
Dog bites and animal attacks happen more often than most Will County residents would like to think and many dog bite injuries occur in the homes of dog owners. Often times, dog bite incidents happen to a family member in the household with the dog, or to a friend or extended family member on the property. Illinois law on dog bites is strict. Dog owners are often liable in a variety of animal attack cases. If you have questions or concerns, or if you need assistance filing a claim, a Will County dog bites lawyer at our firm can help.
Getting the Facts About Dog Bite Injuries
Illinois is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bite cases. Accordingly, under Illinois law, a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by a dog bite as long as the incident occurred while the victim was lawfully on the property and as long as the victim was not provoking the animal. Here is what the statute says specifically:
“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
In other words, the dog owner does not have to be negligent to be liable. Instead, simply owning the dog is enough for liability to attach in Will County. Further, while some states only hold a dog owner liable when the dog has a history of violence, Illinois law does follow this requirement. To be clear, a dog does not have to have bitten a person in the past, or even acted aggressively, for the owner to be responsible.
Proving Liability in a Will County Dog Bite Case
Since Illinois is a strict liability state, an injured plaintiff will only need to prove the following:
- Defendant owned the dog; and
- Dog bit the plaintiff and caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
A dog owner will be responsible for injuries unless one of the following is true:
- Injured person was trespassing on the property where the dog bite occurred; or
- Injured person provoked the dog.
Reckless Dog Owners and Illinois Law
Illinois recently passed a law holding Will County dog owners even more accountable for dog bite injuries. Under the Justice for Buddy Act, which amended the Animal Control Act, a dog owner whose dog has a history of biting another person or dog (a “dangerous dog” under the law) will be considered a “reckless dog owner” if the dog is found off-leash. That dog owner can be liable for any injuries inflicted by the off-leash animal, in addition to other significant penalties.