Articles Posted in Dog Bites & Animal Attacks

For most dog owners, our furry friends are important members of our families. A dog owner’s worst nightmare, however, is if or when their dog gets into a violent encounter with a person. Worse than that, however, is being on the other end of a Chicago dog bite attack. When a dog attacks, the injured party can pursue a claim against the animal’s owner.

In a recent opinion, a plaintiff sued seeking recovery for injuries she sustained after the defendants’ dog bit her. According to the court’s opinion, while the defendants were out of town, a friend kept an eye on their dog and invited the plaintiff and others to the defendants’ home. The defendants gave their friend instructions to care for their dog, and their friend had watched the dog on several occasions in the past. Before the incident, the dog had never bitten anyone or exhibited aggressive behavior and did not typically jump on visitors. The defendants testified that the dog would often growl at strangers from the window or car, or would bark at other dogs, and once got into a fight with another dog at the park. In addition, the defendants had owned the dog for seven years and did not generally keep the dog away from guests. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court erred in ruling in favor of the defendants because they knew or had reason to know about the dog’s aggressive propensities. The court disagreed, reasoning that fights between dogs are not indicative of attacks on humans and that there was no case law indicating that an owner of a dog that growls at people is on notice that the dog poses a threat to humans. In addition, the court held that owners were not in a position to control the dog or prevent injury because they were out of town, so they could not be held liable. Because the defendants had relinquished care to their friend to watch the dog, they had no reason to believe their dog would be a danger to the friend’s guests. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of the defendants.

Most people understand that when an Illinois resident is injured by another person, state law allows them to file a civil negligence claim to recover for their damages. However, the same principle is usually true even if the victim was injured by an animal, not a person. And, just like dog owners can be held responsible in an Illinois dog bite case if their canine inflicts injuries to others, Illinois law provides the same protection for those injured by livestock. The Illinois Domestic Animals Running at Large Act, usually referred to as the Animals Running Act, protects state residents from being harmed by others’ livestock running at large.

Illinois has a robust agricultural industry, and many of the state’s farms have cattle and livestock. The Animals Running Act, 510 ILCS 55, states that: “No person or owner of livestock shall allow livestock to run at large in the State of Illinois. All owners of livestock shall provide the necessary restraints to prevent such livestock from so running at large and shall be liable in a civil action for all damages occasioned by such animals running at large.” Put simply, the act creates a form of recovery for those who are injured when livestock is running at large due to their owner’s negligence, which, in turn, incentivizes owners to ensure that their livestock is properly restrained.

The act imposes a reasonableness standard on owners of livestock, so that they cannot be held liable if something outside of their control happens and they are unaware their livestock is running at large, so long as they can prove that they took reasonable precaution to secure the animals. For example, if an owner takes all available precautions to secure their cattle, but an unexpected tornado comes and damages the farm so that the cattle can run free, the owner can likely escape liability since he still took reasonable precautions.

Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, if you or a loved one are injured by an animal, you may have a claim against the owner. The law holds animal owners strictly liable if their pet attacks another person unless the attack was provoked or certain other exceptions are met under the law. The most common animal attack incidents in Chicago are dog bites or dog attacks.

Our pets quickly become a part of the family, and no one wants to believe that their dog could harm anyone, especially a friend or family member. While many dogs are gentle and loving creatures, these incidents do occur frequently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million Americans experience a dog bite injury every year.

Children are most commonly the victim of dog bites. Of those 4.7 Americans injured by dog attacks, half of these are children. Children often do not understand that a dog is not a play toy and may antagonize the dog, making the dog uncomfortable and leading to an attack. It can be difficult for a dog to understand a child’s innocent intent when the dog perceives the child’s conduct as threatening.

Continue reading

If you own a dog in Chicago or in the State of Illinois, it is your legal obligation to care for that dog in a safe manner that does not threaten others. Failing to do so may lead to a dog bite incident and can cause people to be injured, whether those people reside with the dog or are merely in the dog’s presence for a moment. Owners of an animal that attacks or otherwise harms another person are liable for the damages that result which can include medical bills, pain and suffering, and even payment for permanency of injuries like scarring or nerve pain. These damages can add up quickly if the dog attack results in significant harm.

Claims can be brought against the owner of an attacking or harmful animal or against anyone who had control, even if temporary, of that animal and can enable victims to obtain relief. However, these claims are complicated in many cases because laws may exist at the state and local level and therefore claims from city to city or county to county may vary. The complicated nature of these claims and the suffering that victims often endure are some reasons that those who have been injured may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn about their rights and whether their claim is valid before proceeding with a legal action.

Police are looking for the owner of a pit bull who bit two people on Tuesday night in the Chicago area and are currently searching for the dog as well. Reports indicate that a 15-year-old girl and an adult male were walking near the 3900 block of West Filmore Street in Lawndale when a pit bull emerged from a residential yard and approached the pair. The dog bit both the girl and the man at least once each and caused enough damage to send both victims to area hospitals where their current conditions are not known.
Continue reading

A 3-year-old boy was mauled by two pit bulls in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago last Monday evening. He sustained puncture wounds to his ears, neck, body, and legs before an adult neighbor came to his rescue and fought off the dogs.

The child was visiting a home in Chicago when two pit bulls attacked him indoors. It is not clear who owned the house or the dogs or if there was adult supervision at the time of the attack. However another child, a cousin of the victim, ran to the yard of a neighbor for help, saying her 3-year-old cousin was being attacked.

The neighbor did not hesitate but picked up a piece of wood and ran to the house, jumping a fence on his way. As he heard the child crying, he knew he had to act and he wrestled the dogs away from the boy. After carrying the boy to a nearby fire station, the neighbor went back to the house to get two kids who had been upstairs at the time of the attack.

Fire fighters made sure the child got the medical attention he needed at Comer Children’s Hospital and doctors have said his injuries are not life threatening. The other children were not injured by the dogs and officials at the fire station have credited the neighbor with saving the boy’s life.

Illinois requires all dog owners to be in control of their pets. If a dog attacks, even if it has never done so before, the owner or caretaker is held liable for any injuries caused by the dog. There are exceptions to this rule, primarily when the dog is provoked by the person attacked or if a person is trespassing or otherwise in an area where his presence is not authorized. This means in the vast majority of cases where a person is attacked by another’s dog in Illinois, there can be a claim for injuries.

The attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. regularly represent clients who have been harmed by a dog. In 2012, we settled a case for a client who sustained a broken arm after he was chased by a viscous dog. In that case, the dog never bit or even touched our client but the dog’s threatening behavior caused our client to jump a fence to escape and break his arm upon his fall. In 2013, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who was chased and attacked by two pit bulls. The man suffered serious injuries to both of his arms and required multiple surgeries.
Continue reading

The third week of May every year is National Dog Bite Prevention Week in America and is designed to raise awareness that nearly all dog bites can be prevented with proper steps and procedures.

Pet ownership is at an all time high in the United States right now, and that includes dogs. The American Pet Products Association estimates that 62 percent of all American households have a pet, including 78.2 million dogs. With that many dogs around, it is probably not surprising that a large number of people are bitten every year by even the nicest of dogs.

While many dog owners do not believe it or choose not to acknowledge it, the truth is that any dog can bite at any time, even if the dog has never been aggressive or bitten anyone in the past. The smallest, softest, cuddliest, and cutest dogs bite just like some of the larger and meaner dogs because biting is in their nature. However dogs can be raised and trained to be passive and to not bite in most situations. Proper socialization with humans and other dogs can drastically reduce or eliminate the dog’s desire to bite and can make it safer for anyone who will spend time around the dog.

Even if the dog is properly trained, it may still bite in some circumstances. Startling a dog, hurting or injuring it, even unintentionally, or threatening the dog may cause it to bite. This is particularly true if you are unfamiliar or unacquainted with the dog which makes a dog more likely to experience fear in your presence.

Every year, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs and nearly one in five of those bitten require medical treatment. Children are more likely to be bitten by any other group and often sustain the most serious injuries. Second to children, the elderly sustain the largest number of dog bites that are also often serious.

If you plan to be around dogs or if you allow your children to be around dogs, it is a good idea to think safety first and make a plan for how to address each specific animal. If you are the owner of a dog, make sure you properly train the dog to obey and behave, even when the dog would like to act otherwise. Many communities offer free or low cost obedience classes or similar training programs that focus on dog socialization and proper training.

Also if you own a dog, you should take steps to protect those who come into contact with your dog. Depending on its personality, you may wish to introduce all new visitors to your dog on an individual basis or it may be best to isolate your dog in a separate room or area of the house while company is around. This should be considered with every visitor but because of the vulnerable nature of children and the elderly, it is especially important to make concessions when they are present.
Continue reading

A loose pit bull in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago attacked a 63-year-old man in the area of 59th Street and Eggleston Avenue Wednesday morning. The man reportedly sustained several puncture wounds and needed medical treatment at Christ Hospital, where he was expected to recover.

Onlookers called police for assistance when they saw the man being attacked by the dog. Before the officer arrived, the dog switched targets to a nearby 16-year-old sophomore who was walking to Urban Prep Academy, his high school. The dog bit the teenager in several spots including his right leg and foot. The officer yelled at the dog to get its attention, and when that failed, fired a shot at the pit bull.

The pit bull responded to the gun shot by running at the officer, who again fired at the dog, this time hitting and killing it. The officer helped get the teenager medical treatment at St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center where the teen received stitches and was later discharged.

While the sergeant was not injured by the dog today, he did respond to a call last week involving a different attacking dog and the sergeant was bitten in that incident.

Animal attack lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. filed a lawsuit this year in a very similar case. Our client was severely attacked by two pit bills on the South Side in 2012. He was saved when Chicago police arrived and shot & killed one of the dogs. The other was euthanized.

Our client sustained awful lacerations, underwent multiple surgeries and incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. His arms have significant permanent scarring due to the attack.

Illinois law holds an owner, harborer, or one in possession of a dog liable for any injuries the dog causes to another person. This includes medical bills incurred as a result of a dog attack or other damages you may incur. Any dog can turn vicious and attack but some breeds are more likely to cause injuries. Pit bulls, dobermans, and rottweilers often cause serious or fatal injuries due to their muscular builds and strong jaws. Attacks against children can be particularly violent since children are less able to defend themselves against a strong and determined dog that is set on attacking.
Continue reading

Most lawsuits in Illinois relating to injuries resulting from an animal attack are filed on the basis of the Illinois Animal Control Act (“ACA”). The ACA contains a strict liability standard for dog owners who are held liable for injuries inflicted by the dog on another person, even in cases where they claim the dog has never bitten before and even when there was no knowledge that the dog presented a danger to others.

To prove an ACA case, a person who is injured by a dog (or any other animal) must show that (1) the defendant was the owner or custodian of the dog, (2) the dog caused an injury, (3) the dog was unprovoked by the injured person, and (4) the injured person was legally permitted to be in the location where the bite occurred.

The Fifth District Appellate Court recently decided two ACA cases in favor of plaintiffs. In one case, the court allowed a jury verdict to stand. That verdict awarded $140,000 to an Illinois woman whose brother’s dog bit her. The trial court had denied the defendant’s motion for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the defendants appealed the denial.
Continue reading

On March 2, 2013, a seven-year-old boy from Galesburg, Illinois was killed in a horrifying attack by a pit bull named Ghost during a visit to the home of his sibling’s father. Between December-February, Galesburg Animal Control had responded to complaints that the dogs residing at this home were neglected and left outside in the cold winter weather. The dogs, however, were not outside by the time Animal Control got there to investigate.

Later, the dog owner denied that either dog was neglected or dangerous. The police were unable to find any reports that the dog involved in the attack was known to be dangerous before this tragic incident.

The dog’s owner was the sister of the victim’s sibling’s father. He had been the one who had invited the seven-year-old boy to go to Skate Palace and stay at his home overnight on the night of the attack. After they went skating, the seven-year-old boy was playing with the dog owner’s two children in their backyard. Chained to the deck, Ghost broke free and clamped onto the boy’s throat.
Continue reading

A 44-year-old suburban Chicago woman who is both a firefighter and paramedic was reportedly killed by a 140 pound Mastiff at her home in Big Rock. The unsocialized dog was reportedly adopted by the woman and her husband about one week prior to the fatal attack so it would not be put to sleep by a relative. The mastiff allegedly had no history of aggression.

According to Pat Gengler, a Lieutenant with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the woman’s husband called 911 after he found her lying at the bottom of the basement stairs. Sadly, the firefighter was dead before her husband arrived home. Officer Gengler stated four law enforcement officers were required to remove the large, muscular dog from the couple’s home. Although two other dogs were in the house at the time of the woman’s death, police believe the much larger mastiff was the only animal involved in the fatal attack. Unfortunately, the woman’s colleagues were the first emergency responders to reach the scene.

Following the attack, Kane County Animal Control took all three dogs into custody. Although no decision has been made regarding the fate of the three dogs, the mastiff will likely be euthanized. Officer Gengler stated the other two dogs in the home at the time of the woman’s death were like children to the couple. He also said the fate of the two smaller dogs, a boxer and a mixed breed, would be up to the woman’s husband.

Although thousands of people throughout Illinois keep dogs or other pets in their homes, some animals pose a safety threat to children, adults, and the community. A bite injury can be painful and expensive to treat as plastic surgery is often required to repair the damage. Still, the victim of a dog attack may be left permanently scarred or disfigured. In the most tragic cases, an animal attack may result in death. Unless an animal was provoked, the Illinois Animal Control Act holds the owner of a dog or other animal strictly liable for all pet attacks regardless of past dangerous behavior. If you were hurt by someone else’s pet, you should contact a skilled Illinois personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights.
Continue reading

Contact Information