Have you or a family member been attacked by an animal?

Animal attacks, such as dog bites, can lead to huge amounts of medical bills, pain, and lost work. Further, animal attacks can lead to long-term effects and scarring.

An attorney at McCready Law will help you determine whether the owner, or some other person, is liable for the attack. Also, we will find out if there is insurance involved and guide your case through the various complicated procedural requirements.

Our experience assessing damages stemming from an injury incurred as a result of an animal attack, along with our ability to prove an animal owner’s negligence, have helped us recover monetary settlements in many animal attack cases. Contact McCready Law today.

For Dog Bite Victims

What Should I Do After Being Bitten By A Dog?

Contact the Police or Animal Control and make a report.

Seek prompt medical attention.

The first thing you should do is worry about yourself and seek appropriate medical attention. Clean the wound with soap and lots of water to lessen the chance of infection. Apply antibiotic ointment to any wound caused by the dog’s teeth. Use gauze or a clean towel to stop any bleeding. Watch the site of the dog bite for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling. If there are signs of infection, you should immediately seek medical attention.

The CDC found that 45 percent of all dog-related injuries were to the arm or hand region, with most of those to the hand and lower arm. They also found that 26 percent of dog attacks resulted in injuries to the leg or foot region, with the bulk of those injuries to the lower leg. Finally, the study showed that 23 percent of attacks were to the head or neck region.

File a police report.

This may be the furthest thing from your mind after being bitten, but filing a police report is very important. First, you need to have some proof that you were bitten by the particular dog. Without a police report, the owner may deny their dog bit you. You may find out that the dog’s owner was not who you thought it was. The police will make sure all this information is properly documented. If you are going to make a claim for your injuries, a police report will also be important.

Recovery after a dog bite.

Recovery time from a dog bite injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury. The CDC reports that 40 percent of dog bites resulted in puncture wounds, while 25 percent were lacerations. The remaining dog bites resulted in abrasions, infections, or hematoma. Remember to keep the wound clean and watch for signs of infection. If you received stitches, be sure to follow up to have the stitches removed when told to do so by the doctor. Taking them out yourself or waiting too long to remove the stitches can result in worse scarring.

How to lessen the effect of scarring.

Scarring is a potential long-term consequence following a dog bite. Whether the dog bite results in tearing, or you receive stitches, or even with puncture wounds, scarring is a lifelong reminder of being bitten by the dog. Over the counter scar creams can help minimize scarring. The action of rubbing the wound with cream helps keep the skin moist, which also helps the healing process. When we represent dog bite victims with scarring, we often send them to a plastic surgeon who can advise whether there are any cosmetic procedures which may lessen the visibility of the scar.

What are your legal rights against the owner of the dog?

Under Illinois law, if you have been bitten by a dog, you have the legal right to recover from the owner of the dog. What’s more, the law is broader than allowing recovery from just the owner of the dog. Under the Animal Control Act, anyone who harbors a dog is responsible when a dog bites someone. There are, however, a few defenses to a dog bite case.

Seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.

There are many potential pitfalls in making a recovery for a dog bite. Perhaps you don’t want to make a claim against the owner of the dog, or perhaps the neighbor’s dog bit your child and you do not want to sue your neighbor. If you have any questions about what happens to a dog when it bites someone, you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with dog bite cases. If you have questions, please contact McCready Law for a free, no obligation consultation by calling us at 773-779-9885 or contact us by e-mail.

I Have Been Bitten By A Dog On The Job

You may have a job where you sustained a Chicago dog bite. Delivery people, ComEd and Peoples Gas meter readers, US Postal mail carriers, and other jobs require you to enter private property as part of their job description. A worker who is lawfully on the premises within the scope of their employment and is bitten by a dog can submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

If you have been injured by a dog while doing your job, you may also have a claim against the owner of the dog as well as the owner of the property. A dog bite case against the dog owner or property owner will provide you with additional compensation for pain and suffering and other losses which may not be covered by workers’ compensation.

If you have been bitten by a dog, knocked down and hurt by a dog, or injured by a dog in some other way, you may make a recovery. While your employer may cover your medical bills and lost wages under Illinois workers’ compensation for dog bites or federal workers’ compensation for dog bites, ultimate responsibility rests with the owner of the dog.

Does Homeowners' Insurance Cover My Chicago Dog Bite Case?

Dog owners have rights too.

According to the Humane Society there are 78.2 million pet dogs in the United States. Thirty‑nine percent of all households own a dog, with forty percent owning multiple dogs. This article will cover some of the issues you may face if your dog injures someone.

Most pet owners will never have a problem with their dog causing injury. However, what are your potential liabilities if it does? In Illinois, the Animal Control Act governs who is legally liable for a dog bite and when they are liable for a dog bite.

If a dog bites me, can I make a recovery?

The answer to this question is tricky and largely depends on who owns the dog. If the owner rents a house, their homeowner’s insurance should cover the injuries caused by the dog.

Most homeowner’s insurance will cover you and your dog. However, check with your insurance agent since some policies exclude coverage for dog bites. If your homeowner’s insurance does not cover your dog, you will be personally responsible for paying for any injury caused by your dog.

If you rent an apartment and have renter’s insurance, that too should cover your dog, but be sure to check with your insurance agent. If you rent an apartment and do not have renter’s insurance, you will be personally responsible for any injury caused by your dog. Your landlord’s insurance will not cover you or your dog; that is your responsibility. It is always a good idea to get renter’s insurance, but I would consider it essential if you own a dog.

Some breeds of dogs are more dangerous than other breeds.

Some breeds of dogs tend to produce the most dog bites claims with homeowners insurance. These are the same breeds we see repeatedly when McCready Law represents a dog bite victim. These breeds include:

  • Pit Bulls
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas
  • Chow chows
  • German Shepherds

Because these breeds generate the most claims, some insurance companies specifically exclude certain breeds from coverage under homeowners insurance. You should examine your policy closely. Furthermore, if your dog has bitten in the past and the insurance company pays a claim, they will likely send you an endorsement which says they will not cover any future dog bite claims. It is important to know if your homeowners insurance will cover you if your dog bites someone.

What Happens To The Dog That Bit Me?

Seek prompt medical attention.

Before worrying about the dog that bit you or your child, be sure to seek appropriate medical attention for yourself! Clean the wound with soap and lots of water to lessen the chance of infection. Use gauze or a clean towel to stop any bleeding. Watch the site of the dog bite for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling. If there are signs of infection, you should immediately seek medical attention.

File a police report.

This may be the furthest thing from your mind after being bitten, but filing a police report is very important. First, you need to have some proof that you were bitten by the particular dog. Without a police report, the owner may deny their dog bit you. You may find out that the dog’s owner was not who you thought it was. The police will make sure all this information is properly documented.

What happens to the owner of the dog?

First, the dog must be up to date on its shots and be properly licensed. If the owner does not have a license for the dog, the owner will receive a ticket or a fine for an unregistered or unlicensed dog. If the dog was outside the owner’s yard, running free or not on a leash, the owner may face an additional ticket or fine. If the dog is properly licensed and in the owner’s yard or on a leash, it is unlikely anything will happen to the owner of the dog.

What happens to the dog that bit me?

If the dog is not up to date on its shots, the dog may be impounded for observation. Dogs can carry dangerous diseases which they can pass to humans when they bite. If a dog is not current on its shots, animal control will often require the dog to be kept at a kennel for several days for observation. Assuming the dog does not display any signs of disease or infection, it will be returned to its owner. If the owner of the dog cannot be identified, the dog will be placed in the local dog pound for adoption. Only if the dog is diseased will the dog be put down. Merely biting someone is not enough for the dog to be taken from the owner or put down.

What are your legal rights against the owner of the dog?

Under Illinois law, if you have been bitten by a dog, you have the legal right to recover from the owner of the dog. What’s more, the law is broader than allowing recovery from just the owner of the dog. Under the Animal Control Act, anyone who harbors a dog is responsible when a dog bites someone. There are, however, a few defenses to a dog bite case.

Seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.

There are many potential pitfalls in making a recovery for a dog bite. Perhaps you don’t want to make a claim against the owner of the dog, or perhaps the neighbor’s dog bit your child and you do not want to sue your neighbor. If you have any questions about what happens to a dog when it bites someone, you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with dog bite cases. If you have questions, please contact McCready Law for a free, no obligation consultation by calling us at 773-779-9885 or contact us by e-mail. For more information, consult the topics below.

The Neighbor's Dog Bit Me, But I Don't Want To Make A Claim Against My Neighbor

It may be the neighbor’s dog, or a relative’s dog, or maybe you just don’t believe in suing people. Regardless of your reason for not wanting to bring a claim, you do need to know what you should do after being bitten by a dog, as well as the best medical treatment for your dog bite.

Homeowner’s Insurance

The reason most people are reluctant to bring a claim against someone they know is they mistakenly believe that it will cost their friend or relative money. However, dog owners pay a premium to their homeowner’s insurance company precisely so that if there is a claim, the insurance company will pay it. To pay for homeowner’s insurance and not use it is a waste of money. Homeowner’s insurance pays for your medical bills. Your claim for being bitten by a dog is against the owner’s insurance company, not against them personally. Insurance companies are more than happy when dog bite victims do not pursue a claim because it contributes to their profits.

Talking to the owner of the dog about a claim.

You may be considering a claim but you are reluctant to approach the owner of the dog. There are two ways of handling this dilemma. First, you need to explain to them that there is nothing personal involved in making a claim against their homeowner’s insurance for their dog biting you. If there is no merit to the claim, or if they have a defense to a dog bite claim, the insurance company will deny the claim. Explain that you need to have your medical bills paid. Explain that your health insurance may not pay for your medical bills since someone else’s insurance should be primary. You should not pay out of pocket for injuries caused by their dog. Reiterate that the reason they have homeowner’s insurance is to cover claims such as these. If you want us to speak with the owner of the dog prior to bringing a claim, we are happy to do so. Have them read our article, “What will happen to the dog that bit me?” to reassure them that nothing is going to happen to their pet.

The other option is for us to get in touch with their homeowner’s insurance directly. This bypasses communication with the owner of the dog. This option, however, frequently results in hard feelings between the dog owner and the dog bite victim. Ultimately the claim is yours and you can decide how to handle it any way you wish. But keep in mind that you are the victim here.

Time Limitations

You do not need to make a decision on bringing a claim right away. The law allows you up to two years to present a claim for damages when you are bitten by a dog. The two year statute of limitations simply means that you must file a lawsuit within two years or your claim is barred.

Contact us regarding any time limitations in bringing a dog bite case. Additionally, the time limit for bringing a case for your child is much longer. Children have until their 20th birthday to bring a claim for damages after being bitten by a dog. Visit our For Parents section to learn more about your child’s dog bite case.

What Is The Best Medical Treatment For My Chicago Dog Bite?

What is the best treatment following a dog bite?

Prompt medical attention is essential. After being bitten by a dog, you should immediately clean the wound with soap and lots of water. This can lessen the chance of infection. Use gauze or a clean towel to stop the bleeding. If the dog bite has broken the skin, you should seek medical attention. It is best to seek medical attention within eight hours of being bitten. If the dog bite has not broken the skin, watch the site for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling. If there are signs of infection, you should seek immediate medical attention.

The type of dog bite will determine your treatment.

Dog bites can vary from a scratch or nip, to puncture wounds from the dog’s teeth, to tearing of the skin. Some breeds of dog will clamp their teeth when biting a person, which typically results in tearing of the flesh. These types of dog bites typically require stitches, depending on what part of the body is bitten. Other breeds of dog will bite and release, leaving only puncture wounds or perhaps not breaking the skin at all. Any time a dog bite punctures the skin, you must be careful of infection.

Be careful of infection.

The risk of infection following a dog attack is great. Dogs carry bacteria in their mouth, which can spread to a dog bite victim. The risk of infection is particularly great if the dog’s teeth puncture the skin. The bacteria from the dog’s mouth gain direct access to your body through the skin. For this reason, you should always take an antibiotic following a dog bite. You should also receive a tetanus shot or a booster shot if you have not had a tetanus shot within the last five years. Tetanus is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection that can be transmitted by an animal bite.

Lessen the effect of scarring.

Scarring is a potential long-term consequence of a dog bite. Whether the dog bite results in tearing, or you receive stitches, or even with puncture wounds, scarring is a reminder of being bitten by the dog. You can buy over the counter scar creams which will help minimize the scarring. The action of rubbing the wound with cream helps keep the skin moist which also helps the healing process. When we represent a dog bite victim who has scars from the dog bite, we frequently send them to a plastic surgeon who can advise whether there are any cosmetic procedures which may lessen the visibility of the scar.

Seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.

There are many potential pitfalls in making a recovery for a dog bite. Perhaps you don’t even want to make a claim against the owner of the dog. Perhaps the neighbor’s dog bit you and you do not want to sue your neighbor. There are issues of whether homeowner’s insurance covers a dog bite. In any of these situations, you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with dog bite cases.

For Dog Bite Parents

My Child Has Sustained A Dog Bite, What Are My Rights?

Dog bites and children – what you need to know.

Your child has been injured by a dog. This case is about your son or daughter. Whether your child was bitten by a dog, knocked down and hurt by a dog, or injured by a dog in some other way, your child deserves to be compensated. Regardless of your personal feelings, or who owned the dog, it is about your child.

Your son or daughter has the right to make a recovery for injuries sustained in a Chicago dog bite case. Any money recovered for your child belongs to him or her. A personal injury case involving a dog bite will pay for your child’s medical bills and compensate him or her for any scar caused by the dog attack. Your child may also be entitled to monetary recovery to pay for future scar revision or plastic surgery. Even if the dog bite does not leave any physical scars, being bitten by a dog can leave a lasting psychological impact.

Typically, when we make a recovery for a child for a dog bite injury, that money is placed in an interest bearing bank account until your child turns eighteen (18). That money can be there for them for their education, or as a down payment for a house or a car. If your son or daughter has been bitten by a dog, you can bring a case on their behalf.

How Long Do I Have To Bring A Case For A Dog That Bit My Child?

Your son or daughter has until their twentieth (20th) birthday to bring a case for a dog bite. An adult has two (2) years to bring a case for injuries from a dog attack, but a minor has much longer. So long as your son or daughter has not turned twenty (20) years old, you can bring a dog bite case, even if the dog bite injury occurred many years ago.

We have been successful in making a monetary recovery for injuries which happened when the child was only a few years old, but contacted us about injuries before their twentieth (20th) birthday. We can complete a thorough investigation of your child’s case, even if it happened many years ago. In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover your child’s injuries.

What Is The Best Medical Treatment For My Child?

Seeking prompt medical attention is essential.

One of a parent’s worst fears is having their son or daughter being bitten by a dog. Whether it is a neighbor’s dog, the family pet, or a strange dog, the effects of a dog bite can follow your child into adulthood. Cleaning the wound with soap and lots of water can lessen the chance of infection. You can use gauze or a clean towel to stop the bleeding. If the dog bite has broken the skin, you should immediately seek medical attention within eight hours. If the dog bite has not broken the skin, watch the site for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling. If there are signs of infection, you should immediately take your child to the emergency room or to a pediatrician.

The type of dog bite will impact the treatment for your child.

Dog bites can vary from a scratch or nip which does not puncture the skin, to puncture wounds from the dog’s teeth, to tearing of the skin. Some breeds of dog will clamp their teeth when biting a person, which typically results in tearing of the flesh. These types of dog bites typically require stitches, depending on what part of the body is bitten. Other breeds of dog will bite and release, leaving only puncture wounds or perhaps not breaking the skin at all. Any time a dog bite punctures the skin, you must be careful of infection.

Be careful of infection with your child’s dog bite.

The risk of infection following a dog attack is great. Dogs carry bacteria in their mouth, which can spread to your child. The risk of infection is particularly great if the dog’s teeth puncture the skin. The bacteria from the dog’s mouth gain direct access to your child’s body through the skin. For this reason, you should always have your child take an antibiotic following a dog bite. You child should also receive a tetanus shot or a booster shot if they have not had a tetanus shot within the last five years. Tetanus is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection that can be transmitted by an animal bite.

How to lessen the effect of scarring.

Scarring is a potential long term consequence for your child following a dog bite. Whether the dog bite results in tearing, or your child receives stitches, or even with puncture wounds, scarring is a reminder to your child of being bitten by the dog. You can buy over the counter scar creams which will help minimize your child’s scarring. The action of rubbing the wound with cream helps keep the skin moist, which also helps the healing process. When we represent a child who has scars from the dog bite, we frequently send them to a plastic surgeon who can advise whether there are any cosmetic procedures which may lessen the visibility of the scar. This can be useful in the case of a child since the effects will last throughout their adult life.

Seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.

There are many potential pitfalls in making a recovery for a dog bite. Perhaps you don’t even want to make a claim against the owner of the dog. Remember that you should put the interests of your child ahead of any personal feelings you may have about bringing a claim. Perhaps the neighbor’s dog bit your child and you do not want to sue your neighbor. There are issues of whether homeowner’s insurance covers a dog bite. In any of these situations, you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with dog bite cases.

For Dog Owners

It's More Than Just Biting

You are responsible for your pets, even if they don’t bite someone.

If your dog bites someone, it should not surprise you that you could be held legally liable. But the law is much broader than just dog bites. For example, if your dog jumps on someone, knocking them over and causing injury, the law will likely hold you responsible. Other surprising examples where there can be liability are when someone is injured while trying to avoid a dog. We handled a case where a mail carrier jumped off a porch to avoid being bitten by a dog and broke his ankle. We also represented a girl who fell off her bike while being pursued by several pit bulls. We made recoveries from homeowner’s insurance on both of these claims. These examples show that a dog owner not only has a responsibility when his dog bites someone, but also a responsibility to keep his dog under control.

It's More Than Just Dog Injuries

Dogs and Cats and Horses, Oh My!

Although most people understand they can be held responsible if their dog injures someone, the Animal Control Act covers all domestic animals. The Animal Control Act states: “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”

Our office represented the family of a young man whose car hit a horse which had escaped. The horse owner was legally liable for his horse which had escaped. We also represented a man who was attacked by a cat. I am sure your first reaction is to laugh that someone was attacked by a cat. However, the cat scratched our client so deeply and repeatedly that he required stitches and the wounds became infected. His legs were left with many scars. Although the vast majority of cases involve dogs, the Animal Control Act is quite broad.

It Wasn't My Dog's Fault

Although dog owners are responsible when their dog bites someone, there are defenses to dog bite cases.

Dog Bite Defenses

Trespassing is a narrow defense to a dog bite case.

There are limited defenses to a dog bite case. First, the victim must have the legal right to be where they are when they are bitten. This rarely comes into play since dogs usually bite in a public location when they get out of your property, or they bite someone who is allowed to be there, such as a guest or meter reader. You are likely liable even to a salesman who comes uninvited to your door. If someone truly trespasses on your property and is bitten by your dog, there is no liability.

Provocation is a defense to a dog bite case.
The main defense to a dog bite case is provocation. The word provocation has a very limited meaning under the law of dog bites. Provocation involves intentional antagonism toward the dog. Here are a few examples of provocation:

  • pulling a dog’s tail
  • removing its food bowl
  • kicking a dog
  • stepping on a dog

However, merely petting a dog or even “rough housing” with a dog does not rise to the level of provocation. If your dog bites someone, your natural defensive reaction would be to say they provoked your dog. This may be partially true, but provocation under the law is much more narrow. To learn more about provocation and dog bites, contact us for a free consultation.

For Landlords

Does My Liability Insurance Cover A Tenant's Dog Bite?

My tenant’s dog just bit someone. As a landlord, am I legally liable?

You are a landlord and you have a tenant who owns a dog. You learn that your tenant’s dog bit a child who was playing in the yard. Will you be legally liable? In Illinois, the Animal Control Act governs who is liable for a dog bite as well as when they are liable for a dog bite.

Renter’s Insurance

If your tenant has renter’s insurance, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to your tenant’s dog. Their insurance should cover any potential liability. But we all know few renters carry renter’s insurance. As an aside, it is a good idea to require a tenant to have renter’s insurance. If we have a client who was bitten by a dog and the owner has no insurance, we look to other potential defendants who may have insurance.

Landlord is a Potential Defendant When a Tenant’s Dog Bites Someone

You may assume that because the tenant owns the dog, not you, that you are not responsible for the dog bite. This would be a mistake. The Animal Control Act assigns liability to anyone who harbors a dog. This is broader than just mere ownership. Fortunately for landlords, there are many legal precedents which hold that merely renting to a tenant does not rise to the level of harboring a dog. But there have been some reported cases holding landlords liable for harboring a tenant’s dog.

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