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.