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Illinois dog owners might need to take tighter control when managing their pets at home, in the neighborhood or when walking their pooch. This is because recently released data indicates that Illinois is one of three top states that had the most dog attack claims in 2013, ranking second only after California.

Information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 4.5 million individuals in the US are involved in dog bite attacks every year. Sadly, half of the dog bite victims are children, with the highest incident rates involving youths 5 to 9 years in age.

According to State Farm and the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite attacks add over $500 million every year to the cost of homeowners’ insurance. Even though incidences of dog bites have decreased nationwide in recent years, the payment on a dog bite claim in 2014 increased substantially averaging more than $32,000 ($34,895 in Illinois), which is up considerably from $27,862 from 2013.

That year, State Farm paid claims totaling more than $104 million involving 3700 dog attacks across the United States, which is a part of the $510 million paid for claims involving dog bites over the last five years.Of that, the insurance carrier settled 872 claims to Illinois victims totaling more than $30 million. Dog bites account for more than 30 percent of all liability claims against homeowner insurance policies paid out every year.

Responsible Dog Ownership

Every dog has the potential of biting or attacking innocent victims when frightened or defending their food, owners or puppies. Most dangerous dogs are often created through the shortcomings of their owners when involved in irresponsible breeding practices or poor training that fosters wild or vicious behavior.

Responsible dog ownership can significantly reduce the potential of a dog biting attack by taking steps known to manage a pet’s behavior. The steps include:

  • Consult with a Pet Professional – A consultation with a responsible breeder, animal behaviorist or veterinarian can provide valuable information to determine what suitable breed of dog is best for your neighborhood or household.
  • Use Caution When Buying or Adopting a Pet – Before buying or adopting a pet, spend substantial time with the animal to learn its behaviors. Use caution if the dog is brought home to live with a toddler or infant. This is because aggressive canines tend to act inappropriately around children.
  • Consider Delaying Getting a Pet – Delay the purchase or adoption of a pet if your child is apprehensive or fearful about acquiring the dog.Canines should never be left alone with young children or infants.
  • Socialize the Animal – Dog socialization teaches the pet appropriate behavior when around people and other animals.
  • Discourage Dog Disturbance – Children need to learn to never disturb a dog when sleeping or eating.
  • Be Wary of New Situations – Pets will often display unexpected behavior, responses or reactions when exposed to a new situation.
  • Avoid Direct Contact with Strange Dogs – Approaching or making direct eye contact with a strange dog can make the animal feel threatened and prone to attack.
  • Be Proactive When the Dog Acts Aggressively – If the animal displays undesirable behaviors or acts aggressively, seek advice from a responsible breeder, an animal behaviorist or veterinarian immediately.

Dog Bite Liability

Dog owners and handlers can be legally liable for any injury caused by their dog, especially if they knew their pet had a tendency to attack or bite. There are three specific laws that impose civil liability on dog handlers and owners that include:

  • Dog Bite Statutes – The dog owner can be found civilly liable if the pet causes property damage or injury without provocation.
  • One Bite Rule – If the dog injures a person or other animal, its owners can be found legally liable if they knew the pet was dangerous and likely to attack or bite.
  • Negligence Laws – The dog owner can be held civilly liable if their actions of controlling their pet that bit or attack people or other animals are considered negligent or unreasonably careless.

Recently, many insurance companies have taken steps to limit the financial exposure to dog bite attacks. Many pet owners are now required to sign liability waivers for dog attacks and bites.

If you, or your loved one has suffered an animal bite in a dog attack you might have the legal right to seek financial recovery. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) can provide immediate legal help. We accept these cases on contingency so there is no need to pay an upfront fee to file your claim for compensation now.