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Salvi & Maher, L.L.C.

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Waukegan Personal Injury Attorneys

Dog bites can happen at any time. Although many of us would never imagine being bitten by a friendly family dog, the truth is that any dog, of any breed, can bite a human victim and cause a substantial injury. Dogs that are frightened, provoked, or suffering from neurological conditions can bite victims, as can dogs trained specifically to attack and aggressive dogs that are not trained or contained properly.

A dog bite injury can have long-lasting repercussions, such as nerve and tissue damage and emotional anguish following the bite. When a victim is bitten by a dog suffering from rabies, he or she is at risk of developing the condition as well. In 2016, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed amendments to the Illinois Animal Control Act into law regarding the proper actions for owners of dogs responsible for bites to take after bites occur. If you are bitten by a dog and you did nothing to provoke the bite, you can potentially recover compensation for your resulting damages through a personal injury claim.

Changes to the Illinois Animal Control Act

Currently, dog owners in Illinois are liable for any medical damages their dogs cause victims to suffer through bites or other attacks. To recover compensation for his or her medical bills resulting from a dog attack, the victim does not need to show that the dog’s owner was negligent. To recover other types of compensation, such as compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering damages, the victim must show that the owner was somehow negligent and that this negligence caused the bite to occur.

There are two circumstances that release a dog’s owner from his or her liability for a victim’s damages: cases where the victim was trespassing when the bite occurred and cases where the victim provoked the dog into attacking. After any dog bite, the dog must be reported to local Animal Services and confined for at least 10 days. Confined dogs may not be released until they have undergone veterinary examinations.

The 2016 changes to the Illinois Animal Control Act gave dog owners new responsibilities following bites. They are:

  • The owner or caretaker of the dog must have it examined by a licensed veterinarian within 24 hours of the bite;
  • If the dog is not already microchipped, it must be by the end of its confinement period at the owner’s expense; and
  • If the dog has not had a rabies shot, it must receive one at its owner’s expense by the end of its confinement period.

Failure to comply with these regulations is a criminal offense. One’s first offense is a Class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are charged as Class 4 felonies.

What Should I Do if I am Bitten by a Dog?

If you are bitten by a dog, first place a clean towel on the wound to stop the bleeding. Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, then apply a sterile bandage to the affected area. Keep the affected area elevated at all times. Each day, apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound to prevent infection.

Seek medical attention for the wound as soon as you can. Before you see the doctor, ask the dog’s owner about its vaccination history. Note whether the dog was vaccinated during your doctor's appointment as well as any health issues of your own that can complicate the bite or your recovery. You might need to get a rabies shot to protect yourself from contracting rabies. If the dog had not been vaccinated against rabies, it will need to be euthanized to be tested for the disease.

Work with an Experienced Lake County Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are bitten by a dog or any other animal, seek medical attention for the bite as soon as possible. Your doctor can determine if further treatment is necessary for the bite and if so, he or she can administer that treatment. After you have received the medical care you need, speak with an experienced Lake County personal injury lawyer about pursuing compensation for your damages related to the bite. Contact our team at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. today to schedule your initial consultation with us.

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