In Illinois, dog owners are generally responsible for any damage or injuries their dog causes in an attack or attempted attack unless the dog was provoked and as long as the person injured was peaceably conducting him- or herself in a place they could lawfully be.
That’s a lot to unpack. Let’s take a closer look.
If you were injured in a dog attack or attempted attack, you may generally hold the dog owner responsible for your injuries and expenses. However, the law does not allow you to seek damages from the dog owner if you were not acting peaceably or were not in a location you could lawfully be in. It also won’t let you seek damages if you provoked the dog’s attack.
Many people keep dogs for protection, and Illinois’ law is meant to support that purpose. So, if you were trespassing or committing another prohibited act, you can be considered in the wrong and ineligible for damages. The same goes if you were threatening or abusing the dog’s owner or abusing the dog itself.
So, if you want to make a claim against a dog owner, you should keep in mind that these issues could keep your claim from being paid.
It’s important to keep in mind that children do not have the same legal responsibilities as adults. For that reason, it is sometimes possible to pursue a dog bite claim when the child unintentionally provoked the dog.
Should I file a dog bite claim?
Most dog bite injuries are covered by the dog owner’s homeowners insurance. If the owner does not have insurance or the insurer refuses to fully pay a reasonable claim, you may need to file a lawsuit. An attorney familiar with dog bite claims can advise you on where to start and what damages to seek.