Dogs make loving and loyal companions. However, if a negligent keeper can’t control their dog or fails to restrain the animal, innocent passers-by could pay the price. If a dog attacked you or a loved one, you could qualify for damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Our Belleville, IL dog bite lawyers can help. Contact us now for a free case review. 

How Common Are Dog Bites and Attacks in Belleville?

Unfortunately, dog bites and attacks are quite common in Illinois. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Illinois ranked 8th in the number and cost of dog bite claims in the state in 2023. 

In some cases, dogs can kill. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 468 individuals died nationwide from 2011 to 2021 from being bitten or struck by a dog. This averages 43 dog bite deaths annually.

While not all dog bites result in fatalities, they can still cause significant injuries and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one was injured by a dog, we can help you hold an irresponsible dog owner accountable. A Belleville, IL dog bite lawyer at Bradley Law can help you understand your rights and potential compensation that may be available to you.

What Are Illinois’ Dog Bite Laws?

One German shepherd bites a man by the hand. Training and breeding thoroughbred dogs.

Knowing the laws applying to dog owners can be crucial if you are injured. In Illinois, dog bite laws are quite stringent, with the state being a “strict liability” jurisdiction. This means, according to 510 ILCS 5/16, a dog’s owner is liable for any injuries the animal causes, regardless of whether they knew or should have known of their dog’s aggressive tendencies. 

In other words, if a dog attacked you, you don’t have to prove that the owner was careless or reckless (negligent). You merely need proof showing that their dog attacked and injured you.

Who Qualifies as the Dog’s Owner Under Illinois Law?

Under Illinois law (510 ILCS 5/2.16), the owner includes any person who owns, keeps, harbors, and cares for the dog. It also includes the animal’s custodian or anyone who knowingly permits a dog to remain on their premises. This means that you could hold not only the dog’s owner responsible but potentially other parties, too. 

Can the Dog Owner Always Be Held Liable? 

Strict liability applies if the victim was either on public property or lawfully on private property, such as a guest in the dog owner’s home. However, strict liability generally doesn’t apply if the victim was trespassing or intentionally provoking the dog when the incident happened. This means that recovering compensation is unlikely in such cases. 

How Serious Are Dog Bite Injuries?

Dog bites don’t just cause pain and superficial injuries. Dog bites often carry additional risks, such as severe infections and diseases. Here’s why dog bites can be more serious than they might seem at first glance:

  • Risk of Wound Infection: Dogs carry numerous bacteria and other pathogens in their saliva, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (the superbug MRSA). This makes infections highly likely when you get bitten by a dog. Without proper treatment, infections can cause serious complications.
  • Rabies: Dogs can transmit rabies through a bite or a graze. If the dog that attacked you was unvaccinated against rabies or its vaccination status is unknown, contact a doctor to assess your risk of contracting the disease. Rabies is a life-threatening viral infection that requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Tissue Damage: Severe dog bites can cause extensive tears and tissue damage that could lead to scarring, disfigurement, or loss of function. Severe damage to muscles, nerves, and blood vessels can result in long-term impairment.
  • Psychological Trauma: Dog attacks can be emotionally traumatic for the victim and may result in fear, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychological trauma can have lasting effects on a victim’s mental health and quality of life.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on their size and breed, dogs can inflict significant wounds on a victim. Here are some of the more common dog bite injuries:

  • Puncture wounds that penetrate deeply into the skin
  • Deep lacerations affecting muscles and nerves
  • Painful bruising and contusions
  • Fractures

Given the potential seriousness of dog bite injuries, always seek prompt medical attention. A medical report is also essential for an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. If you were hurt in a dog attack, consult a Belleville, IL dog bite lawyer, as you could be entitled to damages.

How A Belleville, IL Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help

A dog bite lawyer can maximize your compensation by using their legal knowledge and experience to build a strong case. Here’s how Bradley Law can help:

  • Collecting Critical Evidence: Our attorneys can gather evidence to support your claim, including medical records, photos, witness statements, and documentation of the incident.
  • Determine Liability: We can investigate your dog bite incident thoroughly to identify all potentially liable parties, such as the dog owner or property owner, and explore all avenues for compensation.
  • Assess Your Damages: Your lawyer can evaluate the extent of your injuries and the impact they have on your life to assess the worth of your case. They can work with medical experts and other professionals to quantify your damages accurately.
  • Negotiate for a Fair Settlement: Our attorneys know how to handle insurance companies and can advocate for your rights during settlement negotiations. They will aim for full and fair compensation.
  • Litigation Strategy: If the other side refuses a fair settlement, our trial lawyers can prepare to take your case to court. They can develop a litigation plan and present your case strongly in court proceedings.
  • Providing Peace of Mind: Most importantly, with our dog bite lawyers by your side, your legal rights are always protected. You can heal without having to worry about your legal case. We can work tirelessly for the best possible outcome while you are recuperating.

Compensation You Could Receive with a Dog Bite Claim

If you came to harm due to a dog owner not controlling their animal, you could qualify for a range of damages. Depending on the scope of your injuries and damages, you could receive economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to reimburse you for your dog attack-related costs, which can include, among others: 

  • Healthcare expenses 
  • Costs of counseling
  • Income loss
  • Property damage 
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Non-Economic Damages 

Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses due to dog bites, such as pain and anguish or emotional trauma, and can include awards for: 

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional Distress
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement 
  • Loss of life enjoyment

Never accept less than what you deserve. If you don’t want to risk leaving money on the table when filing a dog bite compensation claim, let a Belleville, IL dog bite lawyer help. Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers can accurately assess your damages and determine the value of your dog bite claim. 

FAQs – Ask a Belleville, IL Dog Bite Lawyer 

Beware of Dog Sign on Fence

Who pays for my dog bite damages?

If available, a dog owner’s homeowners’ or renters’ insurance typically covers dog bite legal expenses up to the policy limits. However, if the responsible party is uninsured or your damages exceed policy limits, you could file a lawsuit and sue them for damages.

How long do I have to file my dog bite lawsuit in Belleville?

Don’t wait too long to seek legal advice after a dog bite injury, as you have a limited window of time. In Belleville, IL, the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the incident. Filing after two years could see your case thrown out, leaving you with no option for recovering compensation.

How much does a Belleville, IL dog bite lawyer charge?

Dog bite lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win and recover compensation for you. Their fee is usually a percentage of the total amount recovered. 

However, it is essential that you raise the subject of fees with your attorney before hiring them, as some dog bite lawyers charge hourly fees or retainers. The problem with those fee structures is that you could end up with a considerable bill and nothing to show for it, as you’ll pay the attorney whether they win or lose. 

Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers charges you nothing upfront to work on your case. We’ll only recover our fee when you receive compensation. 

Don’t Settle for Less Than You Deserve 

If a dog owner was irresponsible, and you or a loved one got hurt, you deserve justice. Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers has your back. Over the last 30 years, we have recovered over $70 million in damages for our clients and helped countless injured individuals regain their lives. 

Get started today and contact us for a free consultation to determine how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.