Being bitten by a dog can be a painful experience, even if the dog is a smaller-sized breed. In fact, in many cases, smaller breeds can be more aggressive, due to a heightened fight-or-flight response. If a dog does, in fact, bite another individual, the dog’s owner will usually be held liable for any damages caused by his/her animal. Further, in some cases, the animal may be ordered to be put down. Retaining the services of an attorney having experience in dealing with injuries allegedly caused by dog bites can be critical to recovering compensation.
Instances of dog bites happen all the time, although more often the victim is a child. Given that children are drawn to animals, and in light of the fact that, sometimes, children may tease the animal to the point of annoyance, triggering a response, one issue that sometimes comes up is that the dog was provoked into biting the injured individual. A discussion of the law in Illinois on dog bites, as well as how provocation affects the result, will follow below.
In Illinois, if a dog, or other animal, actually, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself/herself in any place where he/she may lawfully be, the owner of the animal will be held to be liable for any damages to such person, in the full amount of the injury. Further, there are two additional aspects of this law that need to be addressed. First, the injury must have been proximately caused by the animal; thus, if a dog bites an individual, and that individual later trips and breaks his/her leg, the dog owner will not be liable for any costs associated with the fracture. Second, the dog bite must not be the result of provocation.
It is clear from the statute that a provoked dog bite will most likely relieve the dog’s owner of liability. However, since the statute does not define provocation, courts have attempted to establish a standard for provocation based on commonly-held notions. Typically, courts have held that provocation is an act or process of provoking, stimulating or inciting.
Further, courts have expounded on this standard and noted that provocation analysis should center on whether the injured individual’s actions would be provocative to the dog, and should take into account what a person would reasonably expect, and how a normal dog would react in similar circumstances. Thus, in a way, Illinois courts have seemed to apply a reasonableness standard to an animal, which, objectively and subjectively, is nearly impossible to definitively state. As such, it is best left to an experienced attorney to persuade the judge as to the provocation of the injured individual.
Nevertheless, there are some instances in which provocation is clear. For example, pulling a dog’s ears or tail would almost definitely be considered provocation, as would be poking the dog with a stick, or kicking the dog. However, the determination becomes a bit murkier with regard to unintentional acts of provocation. For example, while knowingly stepping on a dog would almost certainly be deemed provocative, unintentionally stepping on a dog, in which it immediately bites the individual, is not so clear. Again, because the statute does not define provocation, talking to an attorney about the specific circumstances of a dog bite is imperative.
Injuries from dog bites can subject the dog’s owner to strict liability. However, if a dog is provoked, liability may be transferred to the provoker. If you were injured by a dog bit, the circumstances of the matter should be assessed by an attorney. The skilled DuPage County personal injury attorneys at the Mevorah Law Office, LLC know how to build successful dog bit claims for their clients, and are available to discuss the merits of your case. Contact the firm at 630-529-4761 for a free consultation.
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