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Dog Bites

In Illinois, dog owners are strictly liable for their animals. In other words, if the animal attacks someone, the owner is responsible for the victim’s damages, no matter what. The only exception to this rule is if the victim did something to provoke the animal, which almost never happens. Some states have a “one free bite” rule, meaning that a dog owner must have actual knowledge of the fact that his or her dog is dangerous before the law imposes liability. Not Illinois.

Dog bite cases often take on an added layer of settlement value because of the nature of a puncture wound. Because the wound is so deep, the victim of a dog attack often is left with a permanent scar. Juries are allowed to award extra money damages for permanent scarring. In determining how much money would compensate the injured person for the scar, juries might consider how visible the scar is (a scar on the face is more embarrassing than a scar on the leg), how discolored the wound is, the victim’s age, and whether the victim can undergo any further treatment to reduce or revise the scar further.

Homeowners and renters insurance usually includes injuries caused by animal attacks, even if the attack is away from the residence. No matter how vicious the attack, adjusters will generally only pay full and fair compensation if the victim is represented by an experienced dog bite attorney.