Articles Posted in Dog Bite

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm, the largest writer of homeowners’ insurance in the United States, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for nearly one third of all homeowners’ liability claim dollars paid out in 2018, costing $675 million. The State of Illinois topped the list at #2 for the most State Farm dog bite claims in 2018 with 288 claims, costing $10.3 million.

Illinois has enacted laws designed to protect the rights of those who have suffered an injury due to an animal attack. The Illinois Animal Control Act provides a civil remedy for dog bite victims and all other injuries caused by an individual’s pet or farm animal. For more information about the Animal Control Act, visit our previous blog HERE.  As of 2019, Illinois lawmakers have created a new provision within the Animal Control Act regarding “reckless dog owners,” also known as the “Justice for Buddy Act.” The new law, which took effect on January 1, 2019, aims to protect individuals and companion animals from dangerous dogs and their negligent owners.

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A 17-month-old Aurora girl was fatally mauled over the July 4th weekend while attending a house party in the 1800 block of Cumberland Drive in Joliet, Illinois. Marley Wilander was sleeping in an upstairs playpen while her parents attended a party downstairs. At some point in the evening, the homeowner’s two pitbull mix dogs escaped from the basement where they had been secured. The homeowner went upstairs to investigate a noise and found one of the dogs actively biting the child. According to the Joliet Police Department, the homeowner was able to separate the dog from the child and then called 911.

At approximately 1:30 am, an ambulance transported the unresponsive child to AMITA Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where she succumbed to her injuries at approximately 3:30 am. Will County Coroner’s Office officials reported the autopsy performed the following day showed the child sustained “multiple bite marks throughout her body.” The preliminary report indicated she died from her injuries.

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Pit bulls are considered one of the most dangerous dog breeds across the country. We hear stories every day about a pit bull or similar breed attacking a person and causing serious personal injuries. For more information on the most dangerous dog breeds, visit our page on dog bites and animal attacks HERE and our previous blog HERE.

To combat the dog attacks by pit bulls and similar dangerous dog breeds, many cities across the country have enacted breed-specific legislation, banning dangerous breeds, including many cities in Illinois. In Barry, Illinois, the local city ordinance completely bans pit bulls within the city limits.  The ordinance defines a “pit bull dog” as any (1) bull terrier breed, (2) Staffordshire bull terrier, (3) American pit bull terrier, (4) American Staffordshire terrier, and (5) any dog mixed with the listed breeds. Under the ordinance, a person found possessing a pit bull within the city limits is subjected to a fine of up to $750.00.

Similarly, the Village of Buffalo Grove “restricts” two dangerous breeds – pit bulls and rottweilers in its local city ordinance. Under the ordinance, the owner of a pit bull or rottweiler must install a “special enclosure” and keep the dog in the enclosure at all times the dog is not inside the owner’s residence. Furthermore, the owner must display signage on their property warning the public of the dog’s presence. Continue reading

Part Two: What is a Dangerous or Vicious Dog?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, it is imperative to know your rights as a dog bite victim. For more information on the overall process of declaring a dog dangerous or vicious, visit Part One of our series on dangerous and vicious dogs HERE and visit our page on dog bites and animal attacks HERE. Part Two of our series on dangerous and vicious dogs, below, focuses on the factors used in determining whether a dog is dangerous or vicious.

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Part One: The Process

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you will need to know your rights in having that dog declared dangerous or vicious. Determining whether a dog is deemed dangerous or vicious is governed by both the Animal Control Act and by local city and county ordinances. For more information about the Animal Control Act, visit our previous blog HERE. In DuPage County, Chapter 5 of the DuPage County Code of Ordinances governs dog bite investigations.

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Instances of dog bites are on the rise in Illinois and across the country. In 2016, a woman was found dead in Illinois after being attacked by dogs. Last year, a pit bull brutally attacked and killed a 77-year-old woman in Alsip, Illinois. The pit bull was a pet in the woman’s home.  In 2015, 34 dog bite-related fatalities occurred in the United States. In comparison, from a period of 1979 to 1994, 279 dog bite-related fatalities occurred in the United States. That comes down to an average of 18 dog bite-related fatalities occurring annually during that time period. During 1995-1996, at least 25 people died as the result of a dog bite-related injury. Many more dog bites have occurred without a fatality resulting. According to the Centers for Disease Control, studies found that there were approximately 4.5 million dog bite victims per year in the United States. Of these annual dog bites, 885,000 dog bites (1 in 5 bites) are serious enough to require medical attention. In 2001, an estimated 368,245 people were treated by emergency room physicians for dog bite-related injuries. In the United States, Illinois is the 2nd highest state for Dog Bite Complaints. In 2015, insurance company State Farm paid out over $118 million in dog bite claims. Continue reading

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