The Illinois Animal Control Act allows anyone injured by a dog to sue the dog’s owner seeking full compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. This means that under Illinois dog bite law, you don’t have to prove that the owner was negligent or that the dog had a history of aggressiveness in order to win a dog bite lawsuit.
Who Can I Sue?
The Illinois Animal Control Act defines the term “owner” so broadly that it can include anyone with temporary custody of a dog or anyone who knowingly allows a dog to stay on his property. Examples of possible “owners” under the Illinois dog bite statute include kennels, dog trainers and dog-sitters. You generally have two years from the date of the injury or damage to file a lawsuit.
What Kinds of Injuries Can I Sue For?
In Illinois you are not limited to suing for dog bite injuries – you can sue for any damages caused by a dog including:
- broken bones or other injuries caused by a friendly dog jumping up on you
- damage to your property
- injury or death suffered by your pet due to a dog attack
- emotional trauma without a physical injury (in some cases).
What Do I Have to Prove?
To win a dog bite lawsuit in Illinois, you must prove that:
- the defendant was an “owner” of the dog under Illinois law,
- you suffered injury or other losses,
- the dog’s behavior caused your losses,
- you didn’t provoke the dog, and
- you were not trespassing at the time of the attack
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If someone dies as a result of a dog attack, their claim doesn’t die with them – it is simply transformed into a wrongful death claim. Under Illinois wrongful death law, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate.
The “Dangerous Dog” and “Vicious Dog” Classifications
Illinois law allows a court to formally declare a dog “dangerous” or “vicious”. These classifications carry legal consequences.
Dangerous dogs: A dog can be declared a dangerous dog under the Illinois dog bite statute if it attacks someone but does not seriously injure him, or if it is roaming freely and behaves in a manner that threatens serious physical injury. A roaming dog can even be declared a dangerous dog for attacking another dog.
Vicious dogs: A dog can be declared “vicious” if it attacks and seriously injures or kills someone, or if it has been declared a “dangerous dog” at least three times.
If a dog is declared dangerous or vicious, a court can require various degrees of restraint on the dog, or even order the dog to be “put to sleep” by animal control authorities. An owner who fails to comply with court-ordered restrictions can be charged with a crime, and the owner of a dangerous or vicious dog who kills someone can be charged with a felony. A private citizen has the right to petition a court to have a dog declared dangerous or vicious.
Talk to an Illinois dog bite lawyer now if you or a loved one has a case.