Victims of Dog Bites in Illinois

Understanding the Risks of Animal Attacks

Dog bites can occur anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Dogs and other animals attack for a number of reasons: protection of property, food, or of another person, they may be trained for aggression, or the animal may feel threatened. While everyone is at risk from a dangerous animal, certain groups of people are more at risk than the general population, both for being attacked and the serious nature of the injuries inflicted.

Child Victims of Dog Bites

7654692_origChildren may be at the highest risk of any group to be bitten and seriously injured as the victim of a dog bites in Illinois. Two factors are significant: size and knowledge. Children, especially from ages 0-5 are almost always smaller than the animal that attacks them. Since the dog is larger, it may feel that it is the
dominate creature and assert its dominance by biting the child. Again, since the dog is larger the child, the damage done is almsot always severe. The dog’s jaws can shred flesh and crush bone before anyone even realizes the attack happened. Because of their stature, dogs often bite children on the head, face and neck because of their height in relation to the dog’s face.

Children also possess the least amount of knowledge that a dog may be dangerous.  They may not know the difference between a pit bull and beagle.  Moreover, they probably do not understand the visual cues a dog gives when it is being agressive or preparing to attack.  Because of this innocence, they may try to pet the dog when it is eating, enter the dog’s area or “territory,” or try to play too roughly with the animal.  Often, a child puts his face near the dog’s face, trying to give it a kiss or pet the dog.  Unfortunately, the dog is then able to bite the child in the face, ripping of a nose, tearing the lips, or gouging flesh from the cheeks.  Simply put, children do not have the experience to identify the danger posed by an animal.  They may see a snarling dog on the prowl for food that wandered into their backyard as an opportunity to play – they do not identify the danger nor remove themselves from the dangerous situation.  Unfortunately, this makes them highly likely to be the victims of dog bites in Illinois.

Elderly Victims of Dog Bites

3853481_origElderly people in Illinois are at high risk to be the victim of dog bites and the injuries those bites cause.  Many elderly people have lost mobility as their bodies age. Naturally, this means they move slower or may even be severely restricted in their movement, relying on canes, walkers or wheelchairs. Unfortunately, that means they cannot remove themselves from danger, even if they identify that a dog is preparing to attack.  Of course, this does not apply to every elderly person, but generally, if a group of people cannot escape danger quickly, special care must be taken to remove the risk of a dog bite.

If an elderly person in Illinois is bitten by a dog, their bodies do not heal as quickly as in their younger years. Time and the rigors of life cause the body to heal itself slower, causing wounds to bleed more and leave the body more open to infection. At the same time, elderly people are more prone to infection. This is a natural process that happens over time, but when coupled with slower healing times and exposed tissue from the dog bites, it is a brutal combination. Again, special care must be taken to prevent the dog attack, but if an older person is the victim of an attack, they need to seek medical attention immediately.

Postal Worker Victims of Dog Bites

The very nature of a mailman’s job takes him onto other people’s property. Postal workers delivering the mail put themselves on the dog’s turf, and the dog’s natural inclination is to defend his property. This results in thousands of dog attacks on postal workers every year in Illinois. Importantly, under Illinois law, it does not matter that the dog was on his own property when he bit the mail carrier. The mailman (or mailwoman) has a legal right to be there (i.e. doing his/her job in delivering the mail), and the property owner has a legal obligation to control his dog. Even though the dog was protecting his house, the homeowner is still liable for the postal worker’s injuries.

Unlike another victim of dog bites in Illinois, a postal worker must seek treatment for his injuries, physical and emotional, through a Federal Workers Compensation Claim. Since they are working at the time of the attack, they are covered by the United States Post Office workers compensation insurance. However, after they have finished treating through work comp, they can still bring a claim against the dog’s owner with the help of an Illinois dog bite lawyer. This is important because worker’s compensation generally only covers the medical bills to treat the physical injuries; it very rarely covers any type of emotional distress. The claim against the dog’s owner can compensate the mail carrier for emotional damage, permanent scarring, psychological trauma, and can cover future lost wages if the postal worker can longer deliver the mail after the attack. The attorneys at the BiState Injury Law Center can guide you through both the federal workers compensation claim and your claim against the dog owner for dog bites in Illinois.

Dangerous Dog Breeds

Breeds That May Have Dangerous Propensities

Some dog breeds are naturally larger, stronger and more aggressive than others, to the point that certain breeds are considered dangerous. This is not to say that every pit bull or every German Shepherd in Illinois is a bad dog and going to bite a child. However, people purposefully breed dogs to enhance certain characteristics (or propensities). When these characteristics include aggressive, strength, and size, that particular animal immediately has the ability to do more damage and cause more pain. On top of a their physical characteristics, people often encourage aggressive and violent behavior in certain dogs. They want their dog to protect the house or guard the property, or sometimes they simple want people to know they have a tough dog. Altogether this makes some breeds more dangerous than others.

Any dog can bite you in any given situation, regardless of the breed. But it is important to understand which breeds can do the most damage or may have been purposefully bred to be violent. Pit bulls get the worst reputation in Illinois, but for good reason. Pit bull terriers were selectively bred for a violent activity that is now a felony in all 50 U.S. states: dogfighting, according to the Humane Society of the United States. DogsBite.org reported that of all the people killed directly by dog bites, pit bulls were involved in 61% of the attack. However, pit bulls are not the only dangerous dog breed in Illinois:

  • Pit Bull Terrier / Staffordshire Terrier

  • German Shepherd

  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Bull Mastiff
  • American Bulldog
  • Husky / Alaskan Malamutes
  • Chow Chows
  • Presa Canario
  • Mixed Breed

Again, not every dog is going to be dangerous or violently attack a person, regardless of breed.  However, when a specific dog breed have been bred for physical characteristics that can cause substantial harm to the victims of dog bites – sometimes even bred specifically for fighting – then more knowledge can hopefully save lives.