For many of us, pets are considered another member of the family. While pet owners love their pets, they may end up costing their owners money if they bite another person through personal injury lawsuits. Though dogs and cats are the typical animal involved, Illinois law is applicable to all living creatures, other than human beings, which may be affected by rabies.
Under Illinois law, an administrator is appointed to attempt to control the spread of rabies and the overpopulation of dogs and cats. The administrator uses sterilization, humane education, rabies vaccines, impoundment, and any other means deemed necessary to accomplish these goals. The administrator is usually a veterinarian licensed by Illinois.
In the event that an animal bites a person, the animal is confined under the observation of a licensed veterinarian for 10 days. Immediately upon confinement, the veterinarian reports the clinical condition of the animal to the administrator. The report contains the owner’s name and address, date of confinement, breed, description, age and sex of the animal, and whether the animal has been spayed or neutered.
At the end of the confinement period, the veterinarian submits a written report to the administrator indicating the final disposition of the animal. If the animal has been inoculated against rabies and the veterinarian deems it satisfactory, the animal may be confined to a house or in any other manner in which it will be prohibited from biting a person for a period of 10 days. At the end of this confinement, the animal is examined by the veterinarian.
An owner who is aware that his or her animal has bitten someone must inform the administrator. It is illegal for the owner to euthanize, sell, give away, or otherwise dispose of the animal until it is released by the administrator.
If an animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person, the owner of such animal is civilly liable to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused by the attack or attempted attack. This places owners under strict liability, meaning they can be ordered to pay damages without the victim proving negligence or any fault on the part of the owner; all that needs to be proven is injury caused by the animal.
In certain circumstances, a determination may be made as to whether a dog is considered a dangerous dog. This determination must be proven by a preponderance of evidence. The decision is made after meeting with the owner, gathering medical and veterinary evidence, and interviewing witnesses. A dog is not considered dangerous if the conduct that led to the inquiry was justified. Some examples of justified behavior is when the threatened person was harming the dog or the dog was protecting itself.
A determination that a dog is dangerous is appealable. The owner must file a complaint against the administrator in circuit court within 35 days of receiving the notice of the determination. The determination that a dog is dangerous places more responsibility on the owner, including mandatory spaying or neutering, microchipping, and adult supervision anytime the dog is in public.
Personal Injury Assistance
If you have been bitten by another person’s pet, it is possible that you have a valid claim for personal injury against the owner. For more information, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. Our firm proudly represents individuals in areas such as Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, and Arlington Heights.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.