Dog bites, dog attacks, and other injuries caused by animals cause injuries that range from scratches and puncture wounds to life-long disfiguring and disabling injuries. The Illinois Animal control Act holds the owner responsible for injuries caused by their animal, “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 she or he may lawfully be.” While this sounds simple, these matters are often complex and you should consult with one of our dog bite attorneys before you do anything that could harm your case.
Below, we discuss some of the common questions our dog bite attorneys get regarding their potential claims. Keep reading to learn more:
Q:How do I find out if the dog/animal owner has insurance? -or- How do I find out who my neighbor's homeowner's insurance is?
A:This is a tough question to answer. Most homeowners are required to maintain homeowner's insurance if they have a mortgage. But, not all homeowner's insurance policies cover dog bites and/or animal attacks. Some policies exclude attacks or bites of certain dog breeds, like pit bulls. Some exclude dog bites or animal attacks completely. Our dog bite attorneys are familiar with various homeowner's coverages and exclusions so we can quickly review the policy in question and tell you whether or not your injuries are covered. If the dog owner is a renter, there may be a claim against renter's insurance or the landlord's insurance. This analysis requires a great deal of investigation and sometimes requires filing a lawsuit to get the information we need to identify and analyze the various insurance policies.
Q:When I make this claim, what happens to my neighbor? Is the claim against my neighbor, their insurance company, or both?
A:This is a delicate situation. Our attorneys have represented neighbors, postal workers (who continue to see their customers on their route during and after the claim, and complete strangers. Our dog bite attorneys pride themselves on providing professional representation - in other words, we conduct ourselves as if we have to live next to the dog owner for the foreseeable future because we know most dogs bite people who live or work near where the bite occurs. Your neighbor's insurance will cover the cost of their attorney and their insurance company will pay for your injuries...not your neighbor.
Q:What happens to the dog/animal if I make a claim? -or- Can I request the animal to be "put down" or euthanized? -or- Can I request that the animal not be put down or euthanized?
A:This is largely out of your/our hands, aside from any agreement you, or we, might be able to reach with the homeowner. Animal control should be notified and their investigation, the dog's history, and the owner's response will influence the outcome for the animal.
Q:What can I recover for a dog bite claim?
A:The law entitles you to be "made whole" for your injuries. This includes economic damages like past and future medical bills, lost wages, and household services if you have to hire someone to do things you are not able to do because of your injuries. It also included non-economic damages like past and future pain and suffering, disability or loss of a normal life, disfigurement, and mental/emotional distress.
If you have questions about your injuries and potential claim, contact us immediately for a free consultation.