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Should you sue when a dog bites you in Illinois?

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Posted on August 6, 2018

Contrary to what people may think, most dog bites do not occur from a dog on a walk attacking a jogger or cyclist; even the mail deliverer is not at the greatest risk. The truth is that most dog bites happen to children and seniors with familiar dogs during everyday interactions, such as playing in the home, reveals the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. When more than one dog is in the home, the risk increases fivefold.

This means that you are more likely to have a dangerous interaction with a dog you know well, such as a close friend’s, than a strange one on the street. This fact can make things difficult when a bite occurs. Do you sue your friend and risk damaging your relationship? Do you hold the nice old lady next door legally and financially accountable?

What happens when you sue?

According to Illinois law, if you are not trespassing or intentionally provoking the canine, then the owner (or whoever is currently caring for the dog) is responsible for the bite. When you sue the dog owner, the claim goes through the person’s homeowners insurance or a special dog liability policy, if applicable. You likely will not be hurting the owner’s financial stability. At most, usually just his or her insurance premiums may increase.

The point of suing is not to seek revenge but to seek the compensation you need to pay for doctor visit, follow-up care and any medications necessary as a result of the injury. If the attack led to severe physical trauma with longer-term health consequences, it is even more imperative to receive the compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Any further legal consequences the owner faces are his or her own fault due to breaking the law concerning pet ownership.

What happens to the dog?

You need to report the bite immediately so a vet can examine the canine to see if it has rabies. If the dog is vicious, the owner must enclose it and follow other guidelines. Euthanization normally only happens to the most vicious of dogs.