How to Prove Liability for a Dog Bite Claim in Illinois?

Published on: 06/09/23 — In 

In Illinois, a dog owner can be held responsible for damages caused by their animal if they were negligent in controlling it. Bite victims can sue for medical attention medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from a dog bite injury.

To prove liability for a dog bite case, the plaintiff must show that the owner knew of the dog's dangerous propensities and failed to use reasonable care in handling it. The injured person must also prove that the dog bite occurred due to the owner's negligence and that they suffered severe injuries because of it.

Illinois dog bite attorney Chris Ktenas

For the plaintiff to receive civil damage compensation for their losses, they must prove all necessary elements. It's important to keep in mind that each bite lawsuit case is unique and requires consultation with an experienced Illinois dog bite attorney to determine the best course of action.

Our Chicago dog bite lawyers are available to assist throughout the bite claims process. Call 312-300-2515 today and schedule a free consultation.

How Strict Liability Works in Dog Bite Claims in Illinois

Strict liability cases are an important element of personal injury law, particularly in the area of dog bite incidents. The doctrine of strict liability holds animal owners legally and financially accountable for any harm caused to another by their dog irrespective of the fault or negligence on their part.

In Illinois, this concept means that dog owners can be held liable for all damages resulting from their pet’s actions, even if they did not know that it would harm someone. This concept also applies to situations where a person’s animal is not under their direct control, such as when a dog escapes from the owner’s yard and bites someone.

a dog baring its teeth

As long as it can be demonstrated that the injured party suffered as a result of the animal belonging to them, then they can pursue legal action for financial compensation against its owner for damages regardless of how much care was taken to prevent it in the first place.

Exceptions to the Rule of Strict Liability

In Illinois, pet owners are typically held strictly liable for dog bites and injuries caused by their animals. This means that due to the Illinois Dog Bite Statute the owner of the dog can be held liable regardless of whether or not they knew the animal was dangerous. However, there may be exceptions to this rule.

For instance, if a plaintiff in an Illinois dog bites personal injury claim fails to prove that the defendant was negligent or had knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities, they may not be able to recover damages. Additionally, if the plaintiff was trespassing on private property or provoking the animal, then the owner may not be held liable for any injuries sustained.

It is recommended to seek advice from a qualified personal injury lawyer to assess the validity of your claim, taking into account various factors such as the statutes of limitations, types of compensation, and liability insurance policies that are specific to your case.

Other Types of Liability for Illinois Dog Bite Cases

In addition to traditional liability for dog bites, Illinois courts also recognize other types of liability for the owner of a dog who has bitten another person. Strict liability is one type of legal responsibility that can be applied to a case involving a dog bite. Under this bite rule doctrine, an animal’s owner will be held liable for any damages resulting from their pet’s actions regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known that their animal was dangerous.

Another type of liability is negligence, which requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the domestic animal owner failed to take reasonable care in controlling their pet. If the defendant failed to take necessary precautions to prevent a bite, they may be held liable for damages including medical expenses, hospital stays, wrongful death, permanent scarring, emotional distress, and physical therapy.

How to Know You Have a Valid Dog Bite Claim

An Illinois dog bite case must demonstrate strict liability for the owner of the animal, meaning they are legally responsible for any injuries and damages caused by their pet. To prove this in court, a plaintiff must show that all the following elements of a claim for strict liability had been met:

A man with a dog bite injury on his leg
  • The first element is to demonstrate that the dog was classified as “dangerous” under Illinois Bite Laws.
  • The second element to prove strict liability is that the owner of the dog knew or should have known of its dangerous propensities. The plaintiff must show that either they were aware that their pet was prone to aggression or could have reasonably assumed this based on the dog’s past behavior. This includes incidents such as barking, growling, lunging, and biting at other people or animals resulting in puncture wounds.
  • The third element is that the injury or damage to the plaintiff was a direct result of the dog’s dangerous behavior. This means that the victim’s injury was caused by an act of aggression or animal attack, such as being bitten, rather than another event unrelated to the animal.

If all elements of a claim for strict liability have been met, then the defendant has no legal defense and must pay for the personal injury lawsuit damages awarded to the plaintiff.

How to Prove Liability in a Dog Bite Claim

Establish that the Plaintiff was Bitten

The first step in proving bite liability in an Illinois dog bite case is to establish that the plaintiff was bitten by the allegedly vicious animal. This often requires medical care documentation of the injury, as well as witness testimony and/or photographs of the bite attack incident or injury.

Prove that the Animal is a "Vicious Animal"

To prove that the animal is a “vicious animal,” the bite injury victim must show that it either had a history of aggression or displayed dangerous behavior before biting them. Additionally, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the owner was aware or should have been aware of this propensity for violence. The defendant’s knowledge can be established through evidence such as previous complaints or claims from other victims.

Show that the Injury was a Direct Result of the Dog’s Behavior

The third element is that the injury or damage to the plaintiff was a direct result of the dog’s dangerous behavior. This means that the victim’s injury was caused by an act of aggression, such as being bitten, rather than another event unrelated to the animal.

Demonstrate That the Defendant Was Responsible for the Animal

The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant was responsible for the animal’s care and control at the time of the incident. This can be done by showing that they owned or kept the animal, were in charge of its training, or had custody over it.

Gather Evidence and Documentation Relating to the Incident

In cases of dog bites in Illinois, it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the liability process. Collecting evidence and relevant documentation about the incident is important for your case.

To begin, take photos of any wounds and write down what happened. Get details about the animal, like breed, age, and size. Collect names and contact info of witnesses who saw what happened. Also, gather any info about past incidents involving the dog that may be known by the owner or reported.

Consult With a Lawyer Specializing in Personal Injury

After collecting all the evidence, seeking guidance from an experienced personal injury lawyer is recommended. They can evaluate the specifics of your case and provide advice on the most appropriate steps to take. An attorney will clarify your legal entitlements and assist you in seeking compensation for any losses incurred.

a dog biting a man's arm

When dealing with animal attack cases, it's important to think about the defendant's possible defenses. These could be ignorance or lack of responsibility for the animal's actions, or the plaintiff's provocation. A lawyer can help assess and disprove these defenses. If you've been bitten by a dog in Illinois, keep in mind that the statute of limitations for such cases is two years from the incident date. Taking certain steps can improve your chances of proving liability.

How an Attorney Can Help Prove Liability for Your Claim

If you were the victim of a dog bite in Illinois, it is important to understand your rights and how an experienced bite injury attorney can help you prove liability for your claim.

In Illinois, dog bites are a serious matter, and determining liability is crucial. Ktenas Injury Attorneys, experienced dog bite lawyers can assist with gathering evidence and documentation, including witness statements, emergency medical reports and documentation, photographs, ownership information, and history of aggression, to prove legal responsibility for dog bite injuries.

Additionally, we can provide experienced dog bite attorneys throughout all stages of the proceedings and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you are properly compensated for your losses. Call us today at 312-300-2515 to see how we can help!