Illinois Cat and Dog Bite Laws
You potentially have a lawsuit if you are attacked by any house pet, but since the two most common are dogs and cats, this page discusses them. Although most domestic cats and dogs are vaccinated, a bite or scratch can still lead to major problems like serious infections, nerve damage, tendon damage, bone structure loss, puncture wounds or abscesses that can be life threatening.
The number one thing to do if you are bitten or scratched by a cat or a dog is to get medical treatment. This is true even if you don't think that the problem is serious. It's possible that a life threatening infection or abscess can be cured upon prompt medical care.
In Illinois, the most important legal protection for cat or dog bite victims is a statute called the Animal Control Act. The Act, which applies to all animals, provides that victims of animal injuries may recover full damages for their injuries.
Under the Animal Control Act, the owner of the cat or dog must compensate the victim of the attack for his or her injuries, provided that the victim can prove the following things:
1. You're suing the right person - in other words, the owner of the cat or dog that injured you;
2. That you had the legal right to be in the place where the injury occurred;
3. That you were acting peaceably; and
4. That you did not provoke the animal.
Consequently, in Illinois, you do not have to prove that the cat or owner was negligent or guilty in any way. Similarly, in Illinois, you do not need to prove that the animal had previously shown aggressive tendencies, or had bitten or scratched another person in the past.
When the owner is held liable for injuries caused by their dog or cat, the victim is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical expenses, lost time from work, pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement. Also, if the attack occurs when you are with your pet and it is killed or injured as well, then you should receive additional compensation for your pet.
Most homeowners insurance covers this kind of responsibility. Therefore, to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation, it is important to hire an attorney who has experience working with insurance companies.
It is also important to hire an attorney soon after the animal attack to ensure that you file your claim in time. In Illinois, there is generally a 2-year statute of limitations for cat or dog bite claims. If you fail to file your claim within 2 years of the attack you forever lose the right to bring a claim. However, the statute of limitations period may be different depending on if you were a minor when the animal attacked you, or if the owner of the animal is a government entity. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your injury in order to understand these nuances in the law.
If you are concerned about the cost of an attorney, every attorney we recommend for a cat or dog bite case works on a contingency basis. This means that the attorney's fee is based on what is awarded in the case. The attorney agrees to take on the case without being paid upfront or charging an hourly fee. If your case loses, the attorney is paid nothing. Alternatively, if your case wins, the attorney is awarded a certain percentage, typically 1/3 to 40% of the recovery obtained.
If you have any questions about the Illinois Animal Control Act or have been injured by a cat or dog attack and would like a referral to a qualified and experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer, please