If you are attacked by a dog or other animal, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The owner or possessor of an animal in Illinois is generally liable for any injuries the animal causes to others.
In Illinois, pet owners are generally liable for injuries caused by their animals. To recover compensation for their injuries, a victim must show that:
- The dog or other animal attacked, attempted to attack, or injured the victim;
- The animal was not provoked;
- The injured party was conducting him or herself peaceably; and
- At the time of the attack, the injured person was in a place where he or she was legally entitled to be.
Then, the owner of the animal is civilly liable for the full amount of the injuries caused by the attack.
Under the statute, the word “owner” does not just mean people who legally own the animals. The general purpose of this rule is to protect the innocent bystander. Thus, when a person assumes a position akin to an owner of the animal which causes the injury, that person is no longer an innocent bystander, and thus is no longer protected by the rule.
Owners include anyone who:
- Has a right of property in the animal;
- Keeps or harbors an animal;
- Has it in his or her care;
- Acts as its custodian; or
- Knowingly allows the animal to remain on premises he’s occupying.
In determining whether a victim provoked an animal, courts consider the types of actions that a reasonable person would expect to provoke an animal, and how a normal animal would react to the stimulation. Provocation may include actions such as teasing, abusing, or poking an animal.
In some cases, a victim unintentionally and accidentally provokes an animal to attack. When a vicious attack is out of proportion to the victim’s stimulation, courts do not consider the victim to have provoked the animal.
Peaceable Conduct and Lawful Place
Finally, to recover under the statute, the attack must have occurred while the victim was peaceably conducting him or herself, and in a place where the victim lawfully was. Peaceable conduct and lawful place are similar requirements. Together, they mean that the victim must not have been trespassing, and must not have been breaking any laws at the time of the attack. For example, trespassers attacked by guard dogs cannot recover damages for their injuries.
It is important to remember that a person becomes an owner of an animal for purposes of the statute if he or she knowingly allows the animal to remain on his or her premises. So if the victim let an animal come onto his or her property, and was then attacked, he or she would likely not be able to recover damages.
Illinois’s animal attack statute allows victims to recover damages for the full amount of their injuries. This may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and disfigurement and scarring.
Attacks by dogs or other animals can leave victims with serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been attacked by someone else’s pet, please contact the S.A.M. LAW OFFICE, LLC in Schaumburg for an initial consultation.