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(Chicago.CityRegions.Com, August 31, 2018 ) Typically, financial damages are covered by the dog owner's insurance policy for his or her home, whether the attack occurred on his or her property or not. Claims can be made for any injuries, from minor scars to disfigurement.
If you, your child or another loved one has been injured in a dog attack, The Law Offices of John S. Eliasik can help with your personal injury claim. We are dedicated to advocating for our clients' claims with the insurance companies as well as navigating their claims through the legal process. If the dog's owner does not have insurance coverage, we can help you make educated decisions regarding whether you should file a claim against him or her personally.
What To Do After A Dog Attack
After a dog or animal attack, it is important to report the issue to the police right away. You also should gather the following:
A detailed account of the attack
Photographs of the injuries or disfigurement
Dog/animal owners' names
Attorney John Eliasik has more than 17 years of experience in personal injury and premises liability claims, including several years working on behalf of the insurance companies. This gives him an "insider look" at how the insurance company will attempt to fight against your claim. Mr. Eliasik is also an accomplished trial lawyer who will fully advocate on your behalf for a favorable outcome, both in and out of the courtroom.
Our dog bite injury attorneys located right here in Chicago know the gravity of a seemingly small thing like a dog bit. We know even a small dog-bite can have big consequences.
To cite some dog bite statistics, an average of 35 people die each year from dog bites. That is 35 people too many. There are 4.5 million American dog bite victims each year, according to the CDC. And 316,200 of those victims wind up in hospital emergency departments, according to the AHRQ. Many of these people require surgery and many of these injuries happen on the job.
We have experience in these matters and we can help you when you need a dog bite injury attorney in Chicago.
How to get compensation for a dog bite injury
Many people we have worked with have been left with expensive medical bills and physical and emotional trauma after going to the emergency room for a dog bite. There's always confusion over who should pay for the medical bills and other damages. To make matters worse, most bites are from a dog that belongs to the victim's family or friends. However, it is important to recognize that in a lawsuit, it isn't the dog-owner who will be paying — it is the dog owner's insurance company.
To receive compensation, most people start by doing some online research. When you're ready, it's important to contact a dog bite injury attorney right away, because we help you with arranging doctor's visits and other related matters. We'll sit down with you and have a simple conversation about the events and the bite. If we determine it's a case we can help you with then we begin working on it, usually by filing a claim against the dog owner's insurance company. If the dog owner doesn't have an insurance policy that covers this type of thing, we'll help you decide if you should file a claim against him personally. But usually dog bites are covered by homeowner's insurance.
It's important to note that we do all of this with no upfront charge to you. You can come in and talk with us for free. We only get paid if you get paid. More specifically: if we win the case for you then our fee comes out of those winnings. This is called a contingency fee; you may have heard of it. It's a great deal for you because it allows you to pursue your case with no risk and no upfront cost.
The state of Illinois is friendly to people trying to recover on a dog bite injury and ranks as one of the top states in the nation for payouts for claims made under homeowner owner insurance policies. In 2017, 901 claims were made against insurance companies for dog bites and the average cost per claim was $36,844, which resulted in a total payout of $33.2 million.
Juries and insurance companies consider many different factors when determining how much money to award a dog bite victim in damages.
Some factors that are considered include:
Medical bills: Most victims of serious dog bites go to the hospital. The medical bill for that visit is tallied and charged to the dog owner's insurance company in the lawsuit. Frequently, the initial injury leads to future complications like infections, nerve damage, and scarring.
Emotional trauma: After a serious dog bite, victims can experience emotional trauma. This can manifest as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and in other ways such as flashbacks or fear and panic when the victim spots an animal. These symptoms can become especially difficult if the victim has repeated encounters with dogs such as a home pet or dogs on the job.
Scarring: A dog bite injury can turn into a dog bite scar. Depending on the location of the scar this can complicate social encounters, especially if the victim is a child.
(Go here to read more about dog bites to children.)
We're passionate about helping people get the help they need and getting the compensation they deserve for suffering through a dog bite. There are many great attorneys that can help you with a dog bite in Chicago. But here's our secret: our attorneys have special insider experience working for insurance companies. We know how they work and we know how to beat them in court and get you the winnings you deserve.
What to do after a dog bite
A dog bite is a serious event. You should treat it similarly to a car accident; that means you should report the dog bite to the police and record the incident. Specifically:
Report the dog bite to the police
Get records of the incident
Treat the wounds
Give a detailed account of the attack
Get the contact information for any eyewitnesses
Take photos of the scene and injuries
Get the contact information and names of the dog owners
Dog Bite Law - The Illinois Animal Control Act lays out the law regarding dog bites. Generally, it places the responsibility of safety on the dog owner but provides the defense of provocation: if the victim provoked the dog, the dog owner may not be liable, or responsible, for the injuries.
Here are some of the responsibilities the Illinois Animal Control Act places on the dog-owner.
To keep dogs on their property or, if going out, on a leash. (510 ILCS 5/15.2)
To properly train dogs and encourage a peaceful temperament.
To oversee interactions between their dog and strangers. Especially with children, it is important for the dog owner to instruct the child how to interact with the dog without provoking it.
To get their dog checked and vaccinated for rabies. The dog owner must do this first when the dog is four months old and then one year after that. (510 ILCS 5/8).
To be liable for civil damages if their dog attacks a person without provocation. The law states quite clearly that a dog owner is liable for any injuries caused by his dog. (510 ILCS 5/16).
The City of Chicago also has something to say about dogs; it has its own laws designed to ensure public safety that dog owners must comply. These laws are found in the city's Municipal Code 7-12. Some important points include:
Dog owners must must contain their dog in a way that does not allow the dog to cross the property line. (7-12-030).
Dog owners must license and vaccinate their dog if it is four months old or older.
The executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control can investigate dog bites and euthanize a dog if it is found to be a "vicious animal."
If the executive director finds a dog dangerous she can charge the dog owner a $500-$1000 fine and require the dog to go through obedience training
Dog owners must tell the Chicago Animal Care and Control about a dog bite within 24 hours of the bite happening.
Examples of dog bite verdicts and settlements
Most people don't understand how much they can win in a dog bite case. That's one of the main reasons they want to talk to an attorney. Frequently, they just want enough to cover their medical bills, but many attorneys will promise huge rewards for the tiniest bites. We find it helpful to present real data from real cases. Money rewards, unsurprisingly, vary on a spectrum.
Dog bite to the hand
Case name: ISAAC v. PIACENZA
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Facts: A rug-cleaner was bitten on the hand by the dog and suffered reflex dystrophy.
Award: Settled for $835,000
Puncture wounds to head and body of a child
Case name: BANKSTON v. Diaz
Where: Lake County, Illinois
Facts: Bankston was a 15-year-old child riding home from school on his bike one day, when Diaz's monster Bullmastiff named Kong ran through a long-existing hole in his owner's fence and toppled poor Bankston. Kong continued to attack Bankston until Bankston was rescued by one of the neighbors; the neighbor had to burn the dog's nose with a lit cigarette to get him off poor Bankston. By that point, Kong had already sunk his teeth into Bankston all over his body, leaving a five-inch deep wound in the child's arm. Bankston stayed in the hospital for a week and underwent surgery. This was an extreme case, and because of it, Bankston was awarded extreme damages.
Award: Verdict for $1,125,000
Dog bites to face of minor
Case name: Maxwell v. Price
Where: St. Clair County, Illinois
Facts: Maxwell, an 11-year-old, says he was at the Price's home when their dog bit him without provocation. Maxwell said the Price's did not tell him the dog had a biting problem.
Award: Verdict for $5,556
To speak to a dog bite injury lawyer in Chicago, contact The Law Offices of John S. Eliasik at 312-489-8146 or by email using the online form. Evening and weekend consultations are available by telephone, and we offer off-site visits upon request.
There is no fee unless we win your case.
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The Law Offices of John S. Eliasik