6 Steps For Filing A Dog Bite Lawsuit - Shuman Legal

6 Steps For Filing A Dog Bite Lawsuit

Last updated Thursday, August 25th, 2022

6 Steps For Filing A Dog Bite Lawsuit

Dog Bite Lawsuit

A dog isn’t always a man’s best friend. In fact, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and about a fifth of them end up requiring medical attention according to the American Veterinary Association. Furthermore, most dog bite incidents involve children and senior citizens. Consequently, many of these incidents end up getting litigated in court in a dog bite lawsuit.

If you or someone you love, has been bitten by a dog and you feel legal action is necessary, there are some things you can do to strengthen your chance of winning in court.

The Six Steps For Filing A Dog Bite Lawsuit:

1. The first thing you need to do, after seeking medical attention for the dog bite victim, whether it is yourself or a loved one, is to obtain the identity of the dog and its owner. Get names, addresses, and other pertinent information.

2. Second, you’ll need to photograph your injuries. This provides a visual record of the severity of your injuries that you can use in court to prove your claims.

3. Next, you’ll need to file a dog bite report with your municipal government. This report helps document your case and provides a paper trail for authorities.

4. After documenting your incident, research whether the dog has been involved in other incidents. Check written records to determine whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or biting.

5. Be sure to keep a record of all medical treatments and expenses. Also document the impact the incident has had on your life – emotional trauma, physical pain, loss of work, etc.

6. Lastly, contact an attorney and provide all of the relevant information. Your attorney will be able to move forward with the dog bite case and seek compensation from the responsible party.

Some Common Facts About Dog Bite Law In Illinois

dog bite law

Understanding dog bite law in Illinois is important if you or a family member has been bitten by a dog. Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience that can leave physical and emotional scars. Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dog is confined in a way that prevents it from getting out and biting someone.

They also have a responsibility to ensure that their dog doesn’t bite anyone they’ve invited into their home. If they fail to keep their dog from biting someone, then they can and should be held responsible for their actions.

How Does The Illinois Statute Describe What Constitutes An Injury And Negligence On The Part Of A Dog Owner?

  • The first requirement that will be looked at in a potential dog bite lawsuit requires that a dog attacked, attempted to attack, or injured a person [1].
  • The person who was injured had a lawful right to be where they were at the time of the attack. For example, if someone was walking down a public sidewalk and then attacked, the person who was attacked had a lawful right to be on that sidewalk.
  • The person did not provoke the dog.
  • The dog attacking someone doesn’t have to bite them. For example, jumping on someone and knocking them down would also be grounds for a lawsuit.

Illinois Is A Strict Dog Bite Law State

The state of Illinois is a strict liability dog bite law state. What does that mean? It means that the owner of a dog that bites someone cannot argue that they had no prior knowledge that their dog was aggressive or dangerous.

Furthermore, if someone doesn’t provoke your dog and it attacks them, you are liable. It’s as simple as that. That’s why it’s the responsibility of dog owners to keep their dog contained and prevent it from getting out where it could possibly bite someone.

Is There A Defense For A Dog Bite In Illinois?

There are only two possible defenses that a dog owner can use in Illinois if their dog bites someone. First, if someone teases, hurts, or harasses a dog and then it bites them, the owner of the dog may not be liable.

The other possible defense is if your dog bites someone who is trespassing on your property.

What Should You Do If You Were Bitten By A Dog?

If you were bitten by a dog, the first thing you should do is call the police. Then you should seek medical care. Furthermore, the dog that bit you will need to go into quarantine to ensure that it doesn’t have rabies.

You should prioritize your health after a dog bite and seek whatever care you feel that you need. You may need stitches and there’s also a good chance that you could develop an infection.

After making sure that you are okay, your next call should be to an experienced lawyer. If it’s found that the owner of the dog did not meet their responsibilities and that you did nothing wrong when you were bitten, then you should file a lawsuit.

When Should I Hire An Attorney If I've Been Injured From A Dog Bite

a dog bite

Seeking the aid of a dog bite lawyer in Chicago will help you navigate through Illinois’ many specific dog bite laws.

Personal Injury

Receiving a personal injury is one of the main reasons to seek help from an attorney in a dog attack situation. Furthermore, with a severe bite injury, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your health, or the health of a loved one, should always be the first priority.

After proper medical treatment, continue to follow all medical instructions as directed. During medical treatment at the emergency room, hospital stays, or follow up care, document and keep all paperwork pertaining to your injury.

In Illinois, you have a deadline of two years from the exact day of the bite to file a claim. Furthermore, a lawyer will need all the medical information you saved during the claims process.


Another factor in considering hiring a lawyer is evidence of the circumstances surrounding the claim. To be successful in a dog bite lawsuit, you must prove three vital elements to show the owner of the animal is liable:

  • You must be able to prove the dog caused the injuries. Therefore, the documentation of your medical treatment will provide the proof you need for your case.
  • The victim of the attack had a right to be in the area where they received the bite. Therefore, if you entered a secure dog pen with a proper ‘beware of dog’ warning signage posted, you may be responsible for your injuries. Or if you were trespassing at the time of the dog bite, you cannot hold the owner accountable.
  • The dog was not provoked by the victim. If you were teasing or hitting the dog, you may be held accountable for your own injuries, not the dog owner.

In Illinois, the law covers both the injured party and the dog owner. However, if the correct elements can be proven in court, the owner will have to pay compensation. Each dog attack situation is different.

Seeking advice from an experienced dog bite lawyer is the best way to determine if you have a valid claim.

Seeking advice from an experienced dog bite lawyer is the best way to determine if you have a valid claim.

Contact us at 1-800-722-9744 today to learn more about how our firm can help you in your legal matters.

Source: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/dog-bite-prevention

[1] https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/dog-bite-laws-liability-illinois.html


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