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Who is Responsible for Pet Bites and Attacks?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury, Premises Liability


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that around 4.5 million people suffer from pet bites and pet attacks each year. About 20 percent of those victims require medical attention and more than 27,000 require reconstructive surgery for their injuries. In 2013 alone, there were 31 fatalities related to pet bites in the United States. Children are more susceptible, as 359,223 children between 1 to 14 years old were bitten by dogs between 2010 and 2012, and 66 percent of pet bite injuries suffered by younger children (4 years old and younger) were inflicted on the head and neck.

Pet attacks can result in serious injury, and in some cases, death. If you have suffered injuries due to a pet bite or pet attack in Chicago, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 so we can discuss your case with you.

Liability for Pet Attacks

Under Illinois statute, pet owners are strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their pets. Specifically, the statute spells out that the owner of any pet is liable if their pet, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures other people. The statute protects those who are conducting themselves peacefully and are present in an area where they are lawfully allowed to be. This law imposes strict liability, which means that the owners of the offending pet cannot dispute that they are at fault. Under the law, pet owners are automatically liable to the victim if the law’s conditions are satisfied, and victims don’t have to prove negligence in court.

Therefore, pet owners in Chicago have an absolute duty to prevent their pets from biting, attacking, or otherwise injuring other people. They can’t avoid liability by claiming they have no knowledge of an animal’s aggressive tendencies as long as the animal was not provoked. However, if the victim committed actions that teased, hurt, or otherwise provoked an animal, then the owner may not be held liable for the injury. Additionally, the victim has to be lawfully present on the property in order to be protected by the law. If the victim was a trespasser at the time of the pet bite or attack, they may not recover damages and the owner may not be held liable.

Duties of Pet Owners

Illinois law imposes certain responsibilities on dog owners. An owner must keep a dog within the confines of their property by maintaining a sufficiently high fence or leashing the dog properly. Failure to restrain a dog properly, which then causes injury to another person, may result in a fine of up $10,000. The owner may also be required to pay for any damages and perform community service.

If a dog attacks or bites another person, the owner must place the dog under observation by a veterinarian unless there is evidence that it has been vaccinated against rabies. If such evidence is available, then the dog must still be confined on its owner’s property for 10 days in a location where it cannot harm any other individual or animal. If the dog causes death or serious injury, the owner cannot keep the animal on their residence and the state will impound the dog at the owner’s expense. An owner’s failure to follow these provisions may result in fines and up to six months of incarceration.

How a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Pet attacks can result in severe injuries, and victims may be entitled to compensation. They will need counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney who can assist with evaluating the facts and evidence and pursuing a claim in court. If you or a loved one has been injured by a pet attack in Illinois, Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. has experienced and compassionate lawyers who have represented Chicago residents with their pet attack claims. Our attorneys will evaluate the circumstances of your case and help you decide your next steps.

Don’t hesitate to call us today at (312) 236-2900 for free, initial consultation with one of our experienced injury lawyers in Chicago.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900