Dog Bite

Sherwood Law Group ("SLG") provides personal injury services for dog bite cases involving injuries that can include whiplash to fractured bones, ligament/muscular injuries, debilitating spinal injuries, disfigurement, mental trauma, and wrongful death. It is imperative that injured parties immediately seek counsel from an experienced attorney to preserve witnesses, evidence, and all legal rights.

Statistics About Dog Bites in Illinois and the United States

  • Data estimates that out of the 73 million dogs in the United States, over 16% reside in Illinois. That is equivalent to about 12 million dogs.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. That is at least one dog bite every 75 seconds. Further, about 75% of these 4.5 million victims are close friends or family members of the dog owner.
  • In 2021, the Insurance Information Institute stated that Illinois had the sixth highest number of reported dog bite cases among all states.
  • In 2021, about 800,000 people sought medical treatment following a dog bite.
  • Dog bite injuries occur most commonly to the arm and hand (45.3%), leg and foot (25.8%), and head and neck (22.8%).
  • Children are the most vulnerable to dog bite injuries, comprising over 70% of all dog bite victims.
  • 64.9% of dog bites that occur in the head and neck area are sustained by children under the age of 4.

Common Type of Dog Bite Injuries

The most common injuries to result from a dog bite are:
  • Puncture wounds (40.2%)
  • Lacerations (24.7%)
  • Contusion, abrasion, and hematoma injuries (6.0%)
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Bone Fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Infection

While rather unlikely, dog bites can be fatal under certain circumstances. Fatal attacks are more common in certain dog breeds:

  • Pit Bulls (caused 69% of fatal attacks in 2019) See more.
  • American Staffordshire Terriers /Mixed Breed (8%)
  • Rottweilers (8%)
  • Boxer (4%)
  • Australian Cattle Dog (4%)
  • German Shepherds (4%)

What to Do if Your Dog Attacks Someone

Dog bites create serious issues for all parties involved—the victim, the dog owner, and even the dog itself. In the unfortunate event your dog bites someone, contact the attorneys at Sherwood Law Group who will evaluate your case and help you avoid costly litigation costs. Our knowledgeable attorneys will evaluate the various local and individual factors that will affect your liability and the possible defenses that may be applicable to your case. The most widely used defenses are listed below:

  • Dog Provocation: This defense can be asserted when your animal bit a person who provoked or forced it. A human cannot threaten an animal and demand restitution for a bite.
  • Trespassing: If the victim entered your home or private property without permission, they cannot file a person injury claim for the alleged attack.
  • Assumed Risk: This defense can be tricky in dog bite situations. If you warned the victim about the hazardous animal prior to the attack, the victim had assumed the risk by nevertheless entering your property.
  • Negligence: Dog owners may be held accountable for bite injuries if their carelessness or negligence was the sole cause of the incident. For example, a dog owner who disobeys regional or national leash regulations was negligent in keeping their animal safe. To successfully assert negligence, a Plaintiff must prove, through actual evidence, that it was the Defendant’s violation of these rules that caused their injuries.
  • Strict Liability: Under the Animal Control Act, a dog owner is strictly liable to the victim for its dogs’ actions. To pursue this cause of action, the victim has to prove that (1) they were injured by that dog and (2) the dog was not provoked in any way.
  • Negligence: This cause of action can be more difficult. To successfully utilize negligence as a cause of action against the dog owner, the victim has to prove that the dog owner (1) failed to supervise its dog or (2) failed to control its dog prior to the attack.

What to Do If a Dog Attacks You

If a dog attacks you, there are several steps you should take in order to receive compensation for the injuries thereof.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your physician will determine the appropriate treatment needed following the dog bite. In the best-case scenario, you might get away with a simple antibiotic. However, if the dog bite was more severe, you may be required to receive stiches, rabies vaccination, surgical intervention or even plastic surgery.
  • Gather evidence and documentation. If the dog owner is present, request contact information and the dog’s veterinary record, including proof of the dogs’ vaccinations. You should also note the time, place and details of the incident. If there are witnesses to the assault, make sure to gather their contact information.
  • Clean the bite wound with disinfectant as soon as possible (if no disinfectant nearby, soap and water is fine).
  • Report the incident to the local animal control and/or the local police department.
  • IMPORTANT: It is crucial you do not speak to any insurance representative before consulting with your legal counsel.

Attempted Dog Attack

Under Illinois law and the Animal Control Act, a person who is injured during an attempted dog attack may recover compensation even if the dog did not actually bite them. For example, if a dog jumps and knocks you over, you may seek compensation for the injuries sustained thereof.

Children Attacked by Dog

The most common victim of dog bites are children. Because children’s bodies are developing, parents must consider several factors when seeking legal and monetary compensation for their injuries.

If your child was attacked by a dog, do NOT accept a settlement for medical bills when past and future pain and suffering needs to be considered.

In Illinois, a parent needs to prove that a settlement they are considering of accepting is “fair and reasonable”. As a result, court approval will be required in most cases involving children, even if no lawsuit is filed. When the victim is a child, the legal consequences are much more complicated. The lawyers at Sherwood Law Group can help you manage these legal issues and get your child the settlement they deserve.

Recoverable Damages

Depending on the severity, a dog-related accident may be very expensive. The average cost per claim nationally has risen 134% from 2003 to 2019. This upsurge is due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs. According to a study done by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200. This is approximately 50% higher than the average injury-related hospital stay ($12,100).

In the case of a dog bite liability case, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies will typically cover the costs thereof, up to the liability limits (which range from $100,000 to $300,000). In 2021, homeowners’ insurers paid out $882 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries. Dog Bite Liability - Insurance Information Institute, 2022. If the claim exceeds the limit, however, the dog owner is responsible for all damages above that amount. Further, there are some insurance companies that will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs that are categorized as “dangerous” (i.e., pit bulls).

If you or a loved one were bit or attacked by a dog, contact Sherwood Law Group at (312) 627-1650 for a free consultation to determine what damages you may be entitled to. A dog bite victim is legally entitled to several damages, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Value of lost time (wages) from work

  • Scars and painful disfigurement
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Pain and suffering (past, present and future)

Compensation Without Suing the Dog Owner

In certain situations, a victim may not want to sue the dog owner for the attack they encountered. The lawyers at Sherwood Law Group understand a client’s personal decision to not sue a family member or a close friend. If handled correctly, dog bite claims can be settled confidentially with the dog owners’ insurance company. Often times, this is done without filing a lawsuit.

Illinois Dog Bite & Animal Attack Resources

If you or a loved one have been bit or attacked by a dog, it is important to contact the correct authorities, even if no injuries were sustained. By reporting the attack, you directly help authorities reduce the likelihood of subsequent accidents. Animal Control Authorities will also advise you on whether you need to seek additional medical attention.

When you call the Animal Control Authorities, make sure you have the following information, which will help in identification and location of the animal:
  • The dog owner’s name, address, and telephone;
  • The dog type or breed;
  • The dog description (i.e., color and approximate size);
  • The location of the incident; and/or
  • Any other information to think may be significant to the investigation.

Animal Control Departments

DuPage County Animal Services
120 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: 630-407-2800
Cook County Animal Control
10220 S. 76th Avenue, Suite 251
Bridgeview, IL 604455
Phone: 708-974-6140
Kane County Animal Control
4060 Keslinger Road
Geneva, IL 60134
Phone: 630-232-3555
Will County Animal Control
1200 S. Cedar Road, Unit 1D
New Lenox, IL 60451
Phone: 815-462-5633
Kendall County Animal Control
802 West John Street
Yorkville, IL 60560
Phone: 630-553-9256

Contact us for a free consultation.