Dogs can be wonderful companions. However, before anyone gets a dog, they should fully understand the liability risks dogs present and get adequate amounts of insurance as well. This is because a dog bite or attack can result in severe, permanent, and life-threatening injuries to victims. This was illustrated recently in an incident that took place in a suburb on the north side of Chicago. In September 2019, a man came to a home to provide a tree-trimming estimate, but when he got out of his truck, he was viciously attacked by the three dogs owned by the family. The man suffered severe wounds to his face, arms, and legs, and he was nearly killed.
Confusion exists about when and to what extent the dog owner is responsible in these types of tragic incidents. Is the owner liable for injuries caused by their dog even if the dog never displayed any dangerous tendencies? What if the animal was a rescue dog, and the owner was unaware of the full extent of the dog’s bite history? As a result, it is important to understand how Illinois law addresses dog bite liability in these cases.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
In some states, a dog’s owner is only liable for injuries caused by their pet if they were aware that the dog was aggressive or dangerous. The laws in these states are often called “one bite free” laws, since the owner will often not be held responsible the first time their dog bites someone. However, Illinois is not one of these states. The law in Illinois is very different, and dog owners can be liable even if their family pet has never attacked anyone....