According to reporting from NBC Chicago, Illinois had the second most dog bite claims in the country in 2014, behind only California. It is notable that states with a much larger population, such as Texas, Florida and New York, all had fewer dog bite claims. In 2014, State Farm alone reported that it settled at least 309 dog bite cases for a total of $8.9 million.
Dog bite victims deserve fair compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a dog, it is imperative that you know what to do to protect your health and safety as well as any legal rights. Here, our Rockford dog bite attorneys list the first four things you must do after sustaining a dog-related injury.
Get Yourself to a Doctor
All dog bite injuries require medical attention. Even if you feel that the injury is minor, you still need to get yourself to a doctor without delay. If the dog punctured your skin with either its mouth or its claws, you are at serious risk of developing an infection. According to data provided by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, nearly half of all dog-related injuries that require overnight hospitalization occur as a result of infections. The complications stemming from a bad infection can be truly severe. Please take action to stop these damaging infections before they can spread.
Secure Important Information
Dog bite victims also need to take proactive steps to gather and secure key information related to the attack. Ultimately, to take successful legal action, you will need evidence that supports your claim. If possible, please try to obtain:
- The identity of the dog owner;
- The identity of the property owner where the incident occurred;
- Photographs of your injuries (before they heal); and
- Any other information about the dog, including its breed, history and vaccination records.
Know Your Rights Under Illinois Law
Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, dog owners are ‘strictly liable’ for any injuries caused by their animal. No finding of negligence is necessary to support a finding of liability in these cases. This is not true in all states, but in Illinois, it is assumed that a dog creates an inherent risk. As such, it is incumbent on the dog owner to minimize that risk and to protect the general public from their animal. Though, there are affirmative defenses that can be raised by owners to prevent liability. For instance, if a dog owner can prove that they attack only occurred because the victim ‘provoked’ their animal, then they may be excused from liability.
Consult With a Dog Bite Lawyer
Finally, all dog bite victims should work with an experienced dog attack attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you not just establish liability, but also prove the full value of your damages so that you can maximize your recovery. At Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd., our Illinois dog bite attorneys have helped many victims get full and fair compensation. To set up a free review of your case with our firm, please reach out to us today by calling either our Rockford office at 815 398-9700 or our Streator location at 815-672-8878.