Dog attacks aren’t easy. While we may love dogs, some of them are absolutely massive and can cause serious harm to victims of their bites. Every year, between 20 and 30 Americans die from a dog bite.
Along with coping with your consequences, victims of dog attacks play a role in keeping dangerous dogs more restricted. Depending on the dog’s history, this can result in various responses. For a first-attack, a vicious dog is usually required to wear a muzzle.
Why Dogs Bite
With so many dog bites occurring each year in the United States, one has to wonder why. There are a number of reasons dogs attack people. Typically, it’s a reaction to stressful or threatening situations.
Reaching out to pet a dog may not seem threatening to you. But if the dog is anxious or ill, it can unexpectedly lash out in defense. Dogs also commonly bite during play, but may not realize how painful the bite is for the recipient.
This can catch people off-guard, especially with larger dogs that don’t know their own bite strength.
Potential Harm From a Dog Bite
First off, there is a lot to discuss regarding the potential harm caused by a dog bite. Obviously, a larger dog causes more harm. It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand that an angry dachshund will not hurt you as much as a vicious Rottweiler.
However, even in the case of large dogs, people often do not understand the potential harm that could result from a dog bite. On the other hand, lawyers in Chicago know that dog bites are extremely serious.
For people of all ages, being attacked by a dog can cause serious trauma. A lifelong fear of dogs is not an uncommon result of an attack. In the case of a more serious and unexpected attack, deeper trauma can occur.
In some cases, a person can even fear leaving the house as the result of an attack. There are also physical risks. Along with the dozens of deaths that result from dog attacks every year, a person attacked by a dog can experience lifelong scarring and disability.
This is particularly true if a person is attacked by a dog like a pitbull, which can bite with over 230 pounds of pressure. This pressure can easily break the limbs of an attack victim.
What to Do If Approached by an Angry Dog
There are ways to minimize risk. While you cannot help the way others raise their dogs, there are actions you can take to keep yourself safe.
Do Not Approach Strange Dogs
This is the first and most effective piece of advice. If you see a dog, especially a large one, do not approach it to pet it. Unless you are expressly invited to by the dog’s owner, you have no idea how a dog will react.
Respect a dog’s right to personal space and do not get into an unnecessary altercation.
Do Not Run
If a dog approaches you, it is important to ignore your instinct and try not to run. If you run away from a dog, you will find that dog becoming more aggressive.
This is because dogs initially evolved as a hunter and have a strong prey drive instinct for those who decide to get into a chase. Instead of running from an angry dog, stay perfectly still and lay down in a fetal position.
Communicating submission to a dog is one of the best ways to stop an attack.
Do Not Make Eye Contact
When lawyers in Chicago see clients attacked by a dog they did not approach, the cause is often eye contact. Making eye contact with a dog can seem harmless to somebody who does not know much about these animals.
But if you are an expert on dogs, you will recognize that many dogs see this as a challenge. Avoid making eye contact with dogs, particularly dogs that are walking off-leash.
If Bitten, Do Not Pull Away
Finally, if you have been bitten by a dog, there are ways to minimize the harm. One of the most effective is resisting the temptation to pull the clenched limb away from the animal.
When you pull your hand away, the dog will see this as an invitation to partake in a tug-of-war with the clenched individual. This will end poorly for you. This makes it absolutely essential that dog bite victims resist the temptation to pull away from a dog.
What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten By a Dog
If you have been bitten by a dog, the first response is probably to remove yourself (or the dog) from the situation. Even if the dog didn’t mean to bite aggressively, the ensuing commotion may cause the dog to panic further. This can result in greater injury.
After that, there are a few steps to take to clean the dog bite and prevent infection.
1. Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. If possible, find a clean cloth or towel to prevent contamination.
2. Go to the nearest kitchen or bathroom to clean the bite with soap and water.
3. If the wound is very large or deep, head to a local clinic or doctor’s office, as you may need stitches or other assistance.
3. Apply a clean bandage and a disinfecting ointment to the wound each day.
4. Over the next few days, continue to change the bandages and check for any redness, swelling, or discharge that could indicate infection.
If you notice any of these symptoms, go to your doctor for antibiotics and treatment.
Dog Bite Laws in Illinois
Before you hire lawyers in Chicago for your dog bite, you should know about the laws around dog bites in the state. This can help you make sure that you have legal options for your situation.
The first thing to know is the statute of limitations. In the state of Illinois, there is a two-year statute for dog bites. If you were bitten over two years ago, lawyers in Chicago will probably be unable to help you.
Another thing to consider is whether you provoked the dog. If you provoked a dog to attack you, you do not have the right to legal recourse within the state of Illinois. This is an important consideration when weighing your legal options in the case of an attack.
Finally, you need to consider where you were. If you were bitten by a dog while trespassing, you obviously do not have the right to pursue legal action.
In trying to determine your right to damages from an attack by a dog, there are provisions in the Illinois Animal Control Act to keep in mind.
The Illinois Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/) states: “If a dog or animal attacks, attempts to attack any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dogs or other animals is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
The Illinois Animal Control Act permits a person to recover money if they have been bitten by a dog. Under the law, you can recover damages from the dog’s owner under the following circumstances:
- The person actually owns the animal.
- You did not provoke the dog.
- You were acting peaceably.
- You were standing in a place where you were legally entitled to be.
If you can prove these four things, you are entitled to recover from the dog’s owner for medical bills, future medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages and disfigurement suffered in the attack.
Further, even if this is the first time a dog has attacked or bitten anyone, you might still collect from the owner’s insurance company. Most homeowner policies cover this type of incident under general liability policies.
However, in order to collect, you need Chicago personal injury lawyers to represent you as insurance companies often try to place the blame for the attack on the victim.
As Chicago personal injury lawyers, the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo LLC has spent years helping victims of dog bites collect the damages they deserve. If you’ve suffered a severe dog bite, we urge you to contact us to arrange your free consultation.
When to Seek Legal Advice
If you’ve already been bitten and the injury was severe enough to require medical attention, or if there have been any complications afterward, it’s best to follow up with a dog bite attorney. There can be a number of costly complications following a dog attack.
In addition to obvious medical bills from stitches, antibiotics and follow-up care, you may also need mental health care. Traumatic events such as dog attacks can leave lasting effects. You may even develop PTSD or other issues that can negatively impact your daily life.
Avoiding dogs altogether might seem like a solution, but it’s very difficult to predict when someone will be walking their dog on the sidewalk alongside you. To cope with this, you may need emotional support and therapy for years to return to a state of normalcy.
If this is the case, it makes sense to hire a dog bite attorney who can review the case and work to get monetary coverage and reimbursement for these related costs. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, here are some ways that lawyers in Chicago can help.
Benefits of Working with a Dog Bite Attorney
An experienced dog bite attorney can listen to the facts and determine liability. In addition, even if you think it’s clear who owes you reimbursement, it can be difficult to collect outside of the legal system.
Having an attorney will help recoup your funds and make sure you receive the resources necessary to heal.
Hiring the Right Attorney for the Job
Even after you’ve made the decision to hire a professional, there are still a few considerations to keep in mind. Not every lawyer will be willing to take on every case. Many law firms have specializations or focus areas.
The lawyer who helped close your real estate transaction may not have the experience or desire to work on a personal injury case. The personal injury lawyer who represented you after a car accident may not work with animal attack victims.
It’s important to look for a dog bite attorney who has specifically helped clients in similar situations in the past. Feel free to ask about previous cases they’ve worked on and settlements they’ve received on behalf of other dog bite victims.
Each case is different, but it’s good to know that you’re working with someone who knows local laws regarding animal attacks and has had success representing clients in the past.
Getting Ready for Your Attorney Consultation
After you’ve been bitten, make a note of when and where the attack happened. Write down as many details as possible to help your lawyer determine who is at fault. Keep a record of all bills related to your injury as well.
Document each doctor’s visit, medication prescribed and any follow-up care. Even if the bite seems minor now, there is the chance it will become infected later or lead to other complications.
It’s best to record all the details as they happen rather than trying to remember them later on when there is a larger problem.
Remember: mental health is just as important as physical health. If you’ve suffered any emotional trauma as a result of the attack, let your attorney know about this as well. They may be able to help you find treatment.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect at your consultation, feel free to contact us for more information. We’d be happy to answer any questions and help you recover from your attack.
Hire Lawyers in Chicago
We’re the best lawyers in Chicago when it comes to helping victims of a dog bite. We specialize in helping the victims of animal attacks get the legal recourse they are owed. That includes giving you financial restitution while holding the owners of vicious animals accountable.
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