It is estimated that almost 70 percent of households in America have at least one pet. Many of those pets are dogs. And while man’s best friend is known for their companionship and friendly nature, they can bite or attack for a number of reasons, such as if they are startled or protecting their puppies or their human family. Under Illinois law, a dog owner is legally liable for a dog bite if the owner’s negligence or violation of an animal control law caused the bite to happen. If you have suffered a dog bite or attack, contact a dog bite lawyer Wheaton, IL families recommend for legal assistance.
It is estimated that around 4.4 million people are bitten by a dog each year, resulting in 885,000 wounds that require medical attention. Dog bites can range from mild to fatal. Some of the more common injuries from dog bites are:
- Bruises and abrasions
- Cuts and lacerations
- Dislocations and fractures
There is also a very high risk of deadly infections caused by dog bites. With over 60 types of bacteria that could be in a dog’s mouth at the time of the attack, it is no wonder that about 20 percent of all dog bite victims develop some kind of infection. A Wheaton, IL dog bite lawyer knows that some of the more common infections include:
- Tetanus: This bacteria causes rigid paralysis.
- Rabies: Affects the victim’s brain and is almost always fatal once it appears.
- Pasteurella: Develops in more than half of dog bite victims. Symptoms include pain and redness in the bite area, swelling of joints, swollen glands, and difficulty moving.
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): A staff infection that can spread to the lungs, skin, and urinary tract. Resistant to certain antibiotics and can be fatal once it enters lungs or blood.
In addition to the physical injuries a dog bite victim suffers, there are often very profound emotional injuries a victim deals with. In fact, even a dog bite that leaves a minor physical injury can have a significant emotional impact on the victim’s life. Many victims are left with deep psychological scars, dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may even stop going out in fear they will be attacked again.
Dog Bite Lawsuits
Victims of dog bites are entitled to financial compensation for the losses the injuries have caused them. They can be awarded both past and future medical expenses for any treatments they have had and/or will need in the future, as well as compensation for lost wages. Victims can also pursue damages for the emotional trauma they have been left with, as well.
The Dos and Don’ts of Dog Bites
A dog bite, even a minor one, can be a traumatic experience. However, there are a few things you should do in the minutes and hours immediately following a bite in case you have to bring any legal action against the dog’s owner.
Seek Medical Attention
First and foremost, seek medical attention if a dog bites you. A medical professional will need to clean and patch up the wound to prevent infection or any complications. Dog bite lawyers such as those at Therman Law Offices, LTD, will also want copies of your medical records that document your bite.
Call Animal Control
Call animal control as soon as you’re able, even if the dog is with its owner. If the animal was loose, animal control will be able to create a record of the dog’s capture, which a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL, may use as evidence later. In addition, they will be able to temporarily remove the dog from the home if the animal is deemed a danger to others.
Find Out the Dog’s Vaccination Status
Although rabies vaccines are required in most places, don’t rely on a collar tag to tell you the dog’s vaccination status. Instead, contact the owner immediately and ask them to provide documentation that their dog is vaccinated for rabies, MRSA, Pasteurella, and tetanus. If the dog isn’t inoculated, be sure to seek further medical attention to prevent severe illness.
Take pictures of anything that might be helpful if you have to bring a case against the dog’s owner. This includes the geographic area where you encountered the dog, the last place you saw the dog if it was loose, and your wounds. Then, take a few more pictures once your injuries are cleaned up.
Take Note of Witnesses
Any dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL, will tell you a good witness can make a case easier to win. If someone was nearby when the dog bit you, ask for their contact information in case the police or lawyers need to speak with them. Witness statements can provide a more complete picture of the events that transpired and can bolster your case quite a bit.
It might be hard to focus on tasks such as those listed here in the aftermath of a dog attack. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and focus on getting proper medical attention. Then, contact a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL, such as the professionals at Therman Law Offices, LTD, to get proper representation for your case.
Factors That May Affect a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Dog bites should always be taken seriously. A dog who is willing to attack will likely do so again in the future. Therman Law Offices, LTD can help you seek compensation for damages and injuries that occur as a result of an animal attack. Keep in mind that there are many aspects that can impact the outcome of your case.
The Severity and Nature of the Injury
Dog bites are relatively common and happen quite frequently. Serious injuries that require medical care, lead to emotional trauma, or any interaction with a dog that resulted in a fall may warrant a lawsuit. The number of resulting injuries, their location, and how serious they are can all have an impact on the outcome of your case. It is always wise to consult a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL to determine whether or not you should pursue legal action.
Where the Attack Occurred
Where were you when the dog bite occurred? Were you on your own private property or in a public place? Were you visiting a friend or family member when their dog harmed you? Were you trespassing on private property? The location of the event is very important and could impact the outcome of a lawsuit. However, it is not the only factor that influences your case. Don’t assume that you cannot pursue legal action because of where the attack occurred. Talk with Therman Law Offices, LTD for more guidance on this topic.
Any Underlying Conditions
Some dogs may be more likely to cause injuries because of their size and strength, regardless of their behavior or personality. Certain conditions can also make a dog more prone to attack, including:
- Difficulty hearing or seeing
- History of abuse or neglect
- Being in unfamiliar territory
- Stress, anxiety, or past trauma
These conditions can impact your case, although not necessarily in a negative way. If a dog owner has failed to help treat these issues, it could point to negligence and lead to a more favorable outcome for you.
The Circumstances Surrounding the Attack
When a dog bite occurs, it is critical to take detailed notes and photos immediately afterward and to share these with your dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL. Certain situations could either help or hurt your case, so you’ll want to discuss these openly with your legal representative. Be sure to disclose anything that may have seemed out of the ordinary at the time. Some dogs may be overly aggressive and can attack even when unprovoked. However, if a dog demonstrated defensive behaviors that were ignored by the injured party, this may affect the outcome of the case.
Dog Bite FAQs
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Bitten?
If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. Make sure you get documentation of the injury and needed treatment. Next, report the dog bite and seek legal counsel with a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL before talking to any insurance companies.
What Medical Attention Is Usually Needed?
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may require stitches, antibiotics, a rabies vaccination, or even surgery.
What if My Injuries Don’t Heal Well?
Sometimes, a dog bite is difficult to treat and leaves behind a disfiguring scar. In these cases, plastic surgery or other interventions could be needed. Always follow up with your doctor and pursue the recommended course of treatment. Get an opinion from a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine if future treatment is likely to be needed. Keep these records for your counsel at Therman Law Offices.
How Do Most Bites Occur?
Most dog bites actually occur in the home, with victims being family members or friends. Only a small percentage of bites are from unknown or stray animals.
Can I Collect Damages if I Wasn’t Bitten?
It is still possible to collect monetary compensation even if you weren’t bitten. You can pursue collection for any injury, or attempt at injury. This includes if the dog jumped at you and knocked you to the ground.
How Does a Lawsuit Work?
There are two paths that a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL can follow:
- Strict liability holds the dog owner liable for the injury. The plaintiff must prove his injury and that he did nothing to provoke the dog to attack.
- Negligence focuses on the attack being caused as the result of neglect. This is usually harder to prove.
What If I Don’t Want to Sue?
When the injury was caused by a family member or friend’s pet, it can be difficult to pursue legal measures to get the financial compensation you need to cover your medical costs. However, it is possible to collect damages without a lawsuit. Many times, a claim can be taken care of with the insurance company. Speak with your dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL to find out what course of action is best.
What Types of Damages Can Be Collected?
Typical damages from dog bites include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Scars and disfigurement
- Lowered quality of life
Therman Law Offices will assist you in presenting your case to get the compensation you deserve.
Illinois Dog Bite Law Firm
If you have suffered a dog bite or attack, contact Therman Law Offices, LTD to find out what legal recourse you may have against the dog’s owner. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Wheaton, IL.