People in the Streamwood area love their dogs, but unfortunately, some dogs are aggressive and bite humans. This is a common issue in the US, with approximately 4.7 million people bitten by dogs annually. If a dog has injured you, you could have legal options, so speak to our dog bite lawyers in Streamwood today for a consultation.
Dog Bite Laws In Illinois
In Illinois, dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries their dogs cause others. This means that you do not need to prove negligence by the dog owner to recover damages in a dog bite claim. This rule usually only applies when the injured person was not trespassing or provoking the animal.
On the other hand, suing someone successful in a car accident in Illinois requires you to prove another party was negligent. Illinois law also states that the dog owner is liable for damages caused when their dog chases, injures, or kills someone’s farm animals.
If someone’s dog in Illinois injures you, you have only two years from the date of injury to file a claim. The amount of time is different if the victim is under the age of 18 when they are bitten. Either way, acting quickly after the incident is essential to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Most dogs do not bite because they are mean. Instead, many dogs bite out of fear, not aggression. Dogs feeling unsure, threatened, or challenged could bite in self-defense. Also, dogs that have not been spayed or neutered could be aggressive related to the sex drive.
Avoiding Aggressive Dogs
While you can often file a lawsuit if you are bitten by a dog in Illinois, it is best to avoid the situation. But how do you know that a dog may be aggressive and bite?
According to the ASPCA, ‘aggression’ in animals refers to many behaviors that happen for many reasons in many circumstances. Most wild animals are aggressive when they guard their territory or offspring. Animals that live in groups, such as dogs, may be aggressive to maintain peace and deal with situations they see as threatening.
When we say that a dog is aggressive, this can mean many things that often start with a warning and can turn into an attack. If a dog intends to act aggressively, there are usually several signs, including:
- Standing rigid and still
- Making a deep, threatening bark
- Lunging at someone without making contact
- Mouthing your hand but without applying pressure
- Punching the person with their nose
- Showing teeth
- Blocking your path
- Demanding attention
- Avoiding eye contact
- Guarding resources
- Mouthing other dogs or people’s legs
- Making quick bites
- Biting with enough pressure to cause a bruise or wound
Dogs do not always go in the above sequence and could show several behaviors at once. In many cases, the dog owner does not recognize a warning sign before an attack happens, so they may view their dog as becoming suddenly aggressive. However, most dogs show signs just before they attack, so it is essential for both dog owners and the public to recognize the signs.
Types Of Dog Aggression
There are many kinds of dog aggression. The type of aggression depends on the motivation for the behavior, the context, and the target of the aggression. Some of the most common types of dog aggression are:
- Territorial: Aggression that the dog directs towards a person or animal in their territory, which is often the owner’s property or home.
- Possessive: Also called resource guarding, this is when the animal thinks an animal or dog will take away their toy or food.
- Protective or maternal: Aggression toward an animal or person, often by a female protecting its offspring.
- Pain-related: Aggression toward an animal or person is because of pain or discomfort.
- Predatory: Aggression that may be directed toward a person or animal. It is usually because of a desire to kill, capture, or hunt. This aggression may be silent, and the bite could be severe.
- Sexual: Aggression toward another dog related to mating behavior.
- Fear: Aggression due to a dog that is afraid, which can happen if the dog feels trapped or cornered.
How To Not Approach A Dog You Do Not Know
When you see a dog you do not know, some actions and behaviors could make them more likely to act aggressively. Make sure you do not do the following:
- Running towards a dog you do not know.
- Getting on eye level with the dog and smiling. A dog that does not know you could think you are baring your teeth.
- Sneaking up on a dog or startling him when he is asleep.
- Ignoring a warning sign that the dog may act aggressively. If you see a dog bear its teeth or lunge at you, it is best to get away.
- Touching a dog inappropriately. Dogs usually do not want their tails, ears, or feet pulled. Also, some do not want to be put on their backs; this is a submissive behavior, and the dog could lash out.
What To Do If A Dog Acts Aggressively
If you are in public and a dog acts aggressively towards you, do not panic. Instead, try the following tips:
- Stay calm and still, and do not run. Most dogs can outrun people, so if you are alone, just back away slowly without turning your back.
- Do not look the dog in the eye; this is a challenge and can make a dog act aggressively.
- Do not smile because the dog could see this as baring your teeth.
- Use a soft, soothing voice, and do not speak loudly.
- If the dog bites, do not pull back. This will make the dog bite harder. Instead, stay calm and try to put something between you and the animal, such as a jacket, backpack, or purse.
If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water. When the bite is serious, such as deep or bleeding, call 911. After you are treated at the hospital, follow up with your regular doctor. Next, confirm if the dog has had its rabies vaccine and report the incident to the police. Then call SJ Injury Law at (847) 434-3555.
You also should talk to a personal injury attorney regarding your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering from the incident. The state of Illinois allows dog bite victims to sue the dog owner in some circumstances for their losses.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Aggressive?
Some dog breeds are believed to be more aggressive than others, if we rely on biting and aggression statistics. There are many reasons this can be the case. First, many dog breeds originally served certain functions for people. For example, some breeds were bred for their protective and guarding instincts. Others may have been raised to fight or guard property. While many dogs in these breeds are not used for such purposes today, they still have the DNA of their ancestors. So, some breeds can be more aggressive than others.
However, making assumptions about a dog based only on the breed is unwise. Different dogs have varying levels of temperament and may have different ways of interacting with other animals and people. Learning about dog breeds before you commit and buy or adopt a dog is essential, but the dog breed is not the only factor that makes a dog aggressive.
How To Treat Dog Aggression
If you have an aggressive dog, it is wise to work with a professional dog trainer to modify its behavior. Behavior modification will help the dog understand how to deal better with a stressful event, such as barking or lunging when it sees another dog. In this case, you could teach your dog to act differently by praising him when he sits calmly until the other dog is out of sight.
While behavior modification training can help to reduce aggression in dogs, it may not work entirely. For instance, a dog that is aggressive around children may not ever be able to be trusted unsupervised. In this case, the solution is to be sure the animal is never in contact with children alone.
Whatever the aggressive behavior is, getting help from a dog trainer sooner than later is best. It helps to address the aggression issue quickly so another person or dog is not hurt. Some ways to avoid aggression in your dog are:
- Socialize your dog as early as possible. Dogs learn from other animals how to behave well. Training your dog with other dogs early on will help him learn how to act in acceptable ways.
- Provide your dog will discipline and love. Loving your dog is not just about giving them bones and scratches. You also should train the dog, offer guidance, and correct them for undesirable behaviors. Talk to a professional dog trainer if you need help training your dog.
Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers In Streamwood
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog in the Chicago area, you do not have to put up with it and pay your own medical bills. You could be entitled to compensation. Contact our dog bite lawyers in Streamwood at SJ Injury Law. We can assist with your case, so call (847) 434-3555.