Many of us love dogs and consider them to be our best friends; they’re a part of our family, and they can bring so much joy to their owners. However, that doesn’t mean that dogs aren’t dangerous when not trained properly or allowed to run loose. In fact, dog bite attacks can be serious, sometimes even resulting in death; this is an especially common and tragic outcome for children, who are more vulnerable and also more likely to be attacked.
Every year in the United States, there are 4.5 million dog bite incidents, 800,000 of which send the victim to the hospital. It’s more than likely that some day, you will be on the business end of a dog’s mouth, so it’s important that you know what causes dog bites, who is responsible for these injuries, and how to receive justice for a dog bite injury.
What causes dogs to bite?
There are many reasons why a dog might attack a human, and they usually involve misunderstanding a dog’s cues. While any dog can bite regardless of size or breed, they’re especially common in highly territorial dogs, such as German Shepherds, or dogs with a high prey drive, like Jack Russell Terriers. Protective and predatory behavior are two of the main reasons why dogs bite, and they are sadly two reasons which are difficult to prevent, as they are generally innate to a dog’s breed.
Other reasons, though, are more easily prevented, including poor socialization and anxiety. Dogs who are not exposed to a variety of different animals and people, especially when they’re younger, may not know how to respond to other creatures entering their space, and they may react with aggression out of fear. This can cause fights between two dogs who meet each other, and a person may get bitten while attempting to break up a dog fight. Anxiety, too, can cause fear-based bites, and proper socialization, training, and medical attention can prevent these types of accidents.
Finally, a dog may lash out because it’s in pain and can’t explain to others that it is hurting. Even a mild-mannered dog may become aggressive when it’s sick or injured, which is why it’s important to ensure that every dog gets proper medical attention to prevent such conditions.
Who is responsible for a dog bite?
Because dogs cannot be held liable for their behavior, legal fault lies upon the owner. The amount of responsibility placed upon the owner differs by jurisdiction, as some localities require proof of neglect. In Illinois, the law places strict liability on the owner, meaning that they are held responsible for any damages caused by their animal regardless of whether the animal is treated well or not. There are only three stipulations, which is that the injured party must have been peacefully conducting themselves; they must have been legally allowed to be in the location of the dog bite; and they must not have been agitating the dog in any way.
As an example, someone who is simply walking along the street when a dog runs out of nowhere and attacks them would have been peacefully conducting themselves, legally allowed to be in the location, and not agitating the dog. Someone who trespasses on a person’s property and is attacked by a guard dog is not legally allowed to be there, so even if they were peaceful and were not agitating the animal, they wouldn’t have a strong case in court.
How can an injured person get justice for their dog bite injuries?
Dog attacks rarely become criminal cases, as it’s usually animal abuse which is criminally prosecuted; however, those who have been harmed by someone’s pet can still receive justice through a civil case. Those who are injured by a dog should contact a qualified Chicago dog bite attorney, who will examine the facts of the matter and help negotiate a settlement; failing an out-of-court solution, they will open a lawsuit and sue for damages on behalf of their client.
Every lawsuit is different, and most of them are incredibly complex, which is why it’s essential that those who have been injured in a dog attack seek the advice of the right attorney for their needs. A personal injury lawyer can review medical records, witness statements, and other supporting evidence to prove that their client has a case under strict liability laws. They can negotiate with insurance companies and with the pet’s owner, ensuring that their client can focus entirely on recovery and won’t be harassed by third parties as they recuperate. Furthermore, they can even find other individuals who may be responsible for the dog’s behavior; for example, if a fence was faulty or installed incorrectly despite the property owner maintaining it, there may be a case against the contractor or the manufacturer for the fence’s failure to contain the dog.
Consulting with a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite lawsuits is an essential step of receiving compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the incident. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, or you know someone who has suffered a dog bite injury, don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer. You shouldn’t have to pay for the actions of another living creature: ensure that you call a lawyer immediately after a dog bite and start the process of receiving justice for your pain.