As the most popular pets in the US, dogs often become members of the family. They can provide comfort, companionship, and protection.
As much as everyone loves dogs, the fact remains that these creatures can cause serious injuries or even death if they bite. All animals have instincts, and those instincts can get triggered at any time, leaving injuries behind.
Dogs are required to be quarantined for 10 days after biting a person in Illinois. These bites must be reported to the local health officials. Mandated by both state and local laws, any domestic animal that has bitten a person must undergo this quarantine, regardless of their rabies vaccination status. The owner of the dog must report the incident to the Animal Care and Control Commission within 24 hours.
What Is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by an incurable virus, which is why prevention is key. It attacks the central nervous system, and once symptoms appear, it almost always results in fatality.
Pet owners are urged to keep their animals vaccinated as the only way to confirm an animal has it is by killing it to test its brain. Rabid dogs may have no symptoms at all, which is why the quarantine is important after a dog bite.
If symptoms are observed such as excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, staggering walking movements, and seizures, the dog may be euthanized during the quarantine period. A person with rabies may initially have symptoms that are similar to the flu and the site of the bite may irritate with an itching or prickling sensation. These symptoms will then progress to confusion, agitation, cerebral dysfunction, and anxiety before death is imminent.
This is why it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention after a dog bite. Even if you believe the dog has had all of its shots, you will want to have emergency medical intervention to prevent rabies and treat the physical damages of the injury.
What to Know About the Dog Bite Laws in Illinois
Some states have a one-bite rule that requires that a dog bite victim prove the dog owner knew or at least should have known that their dog could be dangerous. This is not the case in Illinois. Illinois follows a strict liability rule. If a victim can show a dog attacked them, then they can seek compensation for their injuries and expenses related to the bite.
In Illinois, there is no need to show that the dog’s owner knew or that they were negligent in any way. The owner of the dog will be liable for the full amount of your injuries if you conduct yourself in a peaceful way in a place you are permitted to be as long as you do not provoke the dog.
Incidentally, this also covers instances in which a dog pushes you down, scratches you, or causes injury, even if they do not actually bite you. If the dog was not with its owner at the time of the attack — perhaps with a dog walker or neighbor — you have the right to sue those parties.
What Should You Do If You Are Attacked or Bitten by a Dog in Illinois?
When you or someone you love is attacked by a dog, it is a scary situation. After a dog bite, it is critical that you take the right steps to protect yourself, your children, or anyone else who has been attacked.
Clean Your Wounds
Immediately after the attack, wash off any bite wounds or scratches with hot, soapy water. Then you must either go to the emergency room or urgent care. If you can get in to see your family doctor immediately, you can do that if you choose, but if the wounds are extensive, it’s best to head to an ER.
Report the Incident
If the owner of the dog is aware of the incident, they must report it to the local animal control office. However, you shouldn’t rely on them and should file a report with that agency and the police department yourself.
Most people will have no idea whether another dog has all their shots for rabies and other diseases. If the animal that bit you can’t be observed, you will likely be given a series of rabies vaccine injections immediately.
Collect Contact Information
You should try to get the name and contact information of either the dog owner or the person they left in control of their dog. If the dog was roaming around and you’re not sure who it belonged to, try to take photos of the area and record any information you can. Additionally, if anyone saw the dog attack you, get their names and contact information so they can provide statements about what they witnessed.
Take Photos of Your Injuries
Right after the incident, document your injuries in photos and videos. It also helps to take photos every other day as you recover to document how the wounds are healing.
Save Your Clothing
The clothes you were wearing may be a harsh and upsetting reminder of this horribly traumatic incident. However, they can contain key evidence for your personal injury claim. Don’t wash your clothes or shoes from when you were attacked by the dog. Instead, put them in a plastic bag.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Who Represents Dog Bite Victims
While the strict liability law will make it easier to seek damages, you still have to prove your dog bite claim. You also need to file before the two-year statute of limitations runs up. Working with an attorney can help you ensure you have everything you need to build a strong case to get the compensation you deserve.