Dogs are certainly popular pets for many households. However, these pets are responsible for millions of bite injuries every year.
If you are bitten by a dog, you must understand the dog bite laws in your state. Knowing these laws can help you determine if you can seek compensation from the dog owner.
What to Know About Dog Bite Laws in the United States
Every state has specific laws regarding dog bites. These laws determine when and how dog owners are held liable for dog bites and attacks. There are two categories for these laws – strict liability and one bite.
Some states use strict liability rules for dog bites. These rules state that dog owners are always responsible for a dog bite in situations where the attack occurs on public property or when the injury victim was legally permitted on private property.
Generally, strict liability will apply unless the dog is provoked or the victim trespassed. Barring these exceptions, the dog’s owner will be made to cover the damages incurred by the dog bite victim. With strict liability, it’s important to know that the law still holds true even if the dog has never bitten anyone before or demonstrated aggressive behavior.
One-bite rules only hold dog owners responsible for a bite if the dog is suspected to have an inclination to attack. In other words, there needs to be evidence that the animal in question showed aggression previously and that a bite could have or has happened to a person or another animal.
For those in one-bite states, it may be possible to recover compensation from the dog owner if victims can prove negligence. This is where things get more complicated as these states require a history of a problem with the dog before the bite occurred.
Dog Bite Laws in Various States
With these differences, it’s important that you know your rights when it comes to dog bites. Idaho and Mississippi are two states with the one-bite rule in effect. Wisconsin also uses the one-bite rule, however, if the dog bites anyone again, the victim can recover double the damages.
Most other states use a strict liability dog bite law, including Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, and many more. For the District of Columbia, strict liability comes with a twist through contributory negligence. This means that dog bite injury victims are prohibited from recovering compensation if they share some responsibility for the bite.
In Illinois, dog bites fall under the strict liability rule. The only exceptions are if the victim was trespassing on the property or provoking the dog.
How to Handle a Dog Bite in Illinois
The first step is to get out of harm’s way and seek immediate medical attention for your dog bite injuries. You should also take down the address to contact the owner.
Working with an attorney is a wise move because the owner may try to blame you for trespassing or provoking the dog, which would mean you may not recover compensation.