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.
The dog’s owner couldn’t get the boy free from the dog. The adults kicked and beat the dog, trying to stop the attack, but were unable to pry him away. Ghost was still holding on to the boy when the police arrived and shot him.
There is one dog for every four people in the United States. Tragically, dog bite injuries and fatalities happen more often than you might think. Kids like this seven-year-old child are the most common victims. According to USA Today, the Insurance Information Institute found that, in 2011, dog bite cases were more than one-third of homeowners’ insurance liability claims in the United States. They totaled $479 million in payments. In fact, the average cost of dog bite claims in the U.S. went up by 53.4% from 2004 to 2011, rising to $29,396.
In Illinois, there are a number of theories of liability that can be used to sue for a dog bite or wrongful death after an animal attack. Although someone who is harmed can bring a negligence lawsuit, most lawsuits in Illinois today are brought on the basis of the Illinois Animal Control Act.
This statute imposes a strict liability standard on people who keep dogs. In other words, the owner or keeper of a dog is liable for injuries the dog inflicts on people, whether or not they are caused by a bite, even if the owner or keeper isn’t negligent. To prove this type of case, it must be proven that (1) the defendant is the owner or custodian of the dog, (2) the dog caused an injury, (3) the dog was unprovoked by the injured person who was acting peaceably, (4) the injured party was legally allowed to be wherever the bite occurred. If these elements are able to be proven, the dog owner is financially responsible for the consequences of the bite, including medical expenses and pain and suffering. The Illinois Animal Control Act is often used in dog bite cases, but it applies to all categories of animals.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed by a dog bite or animal attack, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your harm or loss. Give the hardworking attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596 to discuss your rights. Our caring Chicago personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours per day, seven days of the week to help you file your case. For a free consultation with a capable advocate, please contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.
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