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Articles Posted in Dog Bites

The Chicago personal injury attorneys Zneimer & Zneimer PC have encountered sad cases where dogs end up euthanized because they cause serious injuries to people or as a result of aggressive or fear-based behavior, but it is important to note that this is often not the dog’s fault. A lack of proper socialization and training can lead to a dog becoming aggressive or fearful in certain situations, which can increase the risk of a dog bite incident.  Proper socialization and training can help a dog learn appropriate behavior, how to respond to commands, and how to interact with people and other animals. Socialization can also help a dog to become comfortable in different environments and to learn how to cope with new and unfamiliar situations.

It is important to note that dogs who have been abused or neglected, may have behavioral issues stemming from their past experiences that can be addressed with proper training and socialization. In these cases, it is not the dog’s fault, but rather a result of the previous owner’s failure to provide proper care and socialization.  Euthanasia should always be considered as a last resort and only after all other options have been exhausted, such as behavior modification and rehabilitation.

Overall, it is crucial for dog owners to take the responsibility to properly socialize and train their dogs, as this can prevent many behavioral issues and reduce the risk of dog bite incidents. It is also important for society as a whole, to understand that many behavioral issues stem from improper care and to work towards providing rehabilitation and education, instead of punishment.

Many people consider their dogs to be their best friends. Dogs are known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners and can provide a sense of companionship and emotional support. Dogs can be a source of comfort and security, and can also help reduce stress and loneliness. Having a dog can also encourage people to be more active and social, as dogs require daily exercise and attention. Studies have also shown that having a dog can have many physical and mental health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of depression. Overall, the bond between dogs and their owners can be a strong and positive one, making them more than just a pet, but a true companion.

Dogs are widely considered to be one of the oldest and most widespread domestic animals in the world, and the bond between humans and dogs remains strong to this day. The domestication of dogs is thought to have occurred around 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, during the time when humans were transitioning from hunting and gathering to farming. Over time, dogs have been used for various purposes such as hunting, herding, guarding, and companionship.

Many dog bite incidents are a result of the owners’ improper care and management of their dogs. Factors such as lack of proper training, socialization, and supervision can contribute to a dog’s aggressive or fear-based behavior, which can lead to dog bite incidents.  Some owners may not provide their dogs with proper exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation, which can lead to behavioral issues such as aggression or destructive behavior. Owners should also be aware of the signs of aggressive behavior in their dogs and take steps to address any issues that arise. This may include seeking professional help from a trainer or behaviorist or supervising the dog around other people and animals.

Proper care and management also include providing a safe and comfortable environment for the dog, providing regular veterinary care, and ensuring that the dog is fed and exercised properly.  It’s important for dog owners to understand that owning a dog is a big responsibility and that proper care and management is essential to prevent dog bite incidents and to ensure the well-being of their dog.

Adopting a dog is a big responsibility and requires careful consideration to ensure that the dog is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. Before adopting a dog, it’s important to consider factors such as the dog’s size, energy level, grooming needs, and temperament. It’s also important to consider the costs associated with owning a dog, such as food, veterinary care, and grooming expenses. Additionally, it’s important to consider the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into training and caring for a dog, as well as how well the dog will fit into your current living situation. Continue reading

As Chicago personal injury attorneys who have handled many dog bite cases, we have seen the serious consequences of  dog bites.  Dog bites should always be considered serious if the skin is punctured due to the potential for infection.  If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if the bite appears to be minor. The CDC warns that dog bites can result in life-threatening infections, often caused by the Capnocytophagia bacteria, that can cause serious complications.  According to the CDC, the infection can cause “a heart attack, kidney failure, and gangrene. Some people may need to have fingers, toes, or even limbs amputated because of complications from severe infection.”

If you have been bitten by a dog, there are a few steps you can take to protect your rights and seek compensation for your injuries:

  1. Get medical treatment: Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if the bite appears to be minor.

Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer

What does a normal dog do in Chicago?

Dog in a costume

A normal Chicago dog

The Chicago personal injuries attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer follow all published court decisions discussing the Animal Control Act because we have many dog bite injuries victims.  Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, one can recover damages for personal injuries from a dog attack only if the dog acted out without provocation. Provocation is measured through the eyes of a “reasonable dog” and the question is whether a normal dog would have attacked the plaintiff.  Kirkham v. Will, 311 Ill. App. 3d 787 (2nd Dist. 2003).  It does not matter whether a person believes that their behavior was not provocative.  The question is whether a normal dog would find such conduct provocative.   In the end, humans decide what a normal dog’s reaction would be, and thus the question is whether a reasonable person should know that a normal dog would react to the precipitating event.

The burden to prove lack of provocation is on the dog bite victim. The law does not distinguish between intentional or unintentional provocation: unintentional provocation can provoke a dog.

For example, in one dog bite case, a child accidentally stepped on the tail of the dog.  The court decided that the child provoked the dog.  Nelson v. Lewis, 36 Ill. App. 3d 130 (1976).  The law does not give carte blanche to the dog whenever a normal dog is provoked.  The dog is Continue reading

Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys

Dog looking at people

 

The Chicago personal injury attorneys with Zneimer & Zneimer note yet another tragic story involving a family pet resulting in the death of two small children.  This tragedy should remind us that dogs are animals with their own whims, needs, and moods.  Most dogs also have significant physical advantage over children, especially strong breeds like Pitt Bull, Doberman, Mastiff, Cane Corso, Rottweiler, and others.   Keeping a strong dog as a family pet where small children live comes with risks to the household of the dog’s owner.  Risks include not just dog bite injuries, but death.  A lot of the fatalities include children.

Dogsbite.org, keeps track of dog bite fatalities and their victims.  According to the 2022 data,  the roster of victims is heartbreaking.  It includes a 3-month old baby (family pet, French mastiff-mix), 7-year old girl (Rottweiler), 1-year old girl (Pitt bull),  4-year old boy (Pitt bull), 7-month old baby (American bulldog-mix) , a 4-year old girl (Pitt bull), and many other children and adults whose encounter with a dog became a fatality.

People love and anthropomorphize their dogs and often forget that dogs are not human, do not follow the law, and do not abide by any commandments not to attack, bite, or kill.  Anthropomorphizing dogs can have detrimental effects   on the dog and the relationship between the owner and the dog.  Attributing human mental and emotional states to a dog may lead to misinterpretation of the dog’s behavior, resulting in a negative effect on the animal’s welfare and behavior. As the sad examples and heartbreaking obituaries of children reveal, wishing that a dog shares the human love for children, in no way means that the dog shares such love or is always safe around kids.  The numerous examples DogBites.org has collected show kids dying at the jaws of family dogs. Continue reading

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The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer often meet with people who had suffered severe dog bite injuries from a dog that lives in a rental place.  Many times a dog had jumped over a low fence or squeezed through a broken door and attacked a passerby. Although blameless for the dog attack, injury victims often find themselves dealing with a dog owner who has neither insurance nor money to pay for the injured person’s mountain of medical bills, disfigurement, pain, lost wages.  In our experience it is rare for a renter to have liability insurance, and most renters do not enjoy wealth sufficient enough to compensate their dog’s victim.

The question then is whether a landlord, a roommate, a property manager can be held responsible when a renter’s dog jumps onto the street because the property was insufficiently secure.  Their liability will depend on the facts.

The Animal Care Act imposes penalties against both the owner of the animal and anyone who places themselves in a position of control akin to an owner.  Under Illinois law merely permitting a dog to be on the rented property is insufficient to establish ownership pursuant to the Act. If a landlord, a roommate, or a property manager cares for the dog, feeds the dog, or otherwise controls the dog at the time of the attack, it is possible to attach liability to them as “owners” under the definition of the Act and reach any insurance they have.  They must be harboring or keeping the animal, which amounts to undertaking to manage, control, or care for the dog as dog owners, in general, are accustomed to doing. Therefore, it is very important to document the instances when third parties cared for the dog because such instances may provide enough support to attach liability. However, if they cannot be held as owners, they cannot be held responsible under the Animal Care Act.

Can they be held liable under a negligence theory if they knew that the dog lived on the property if they knew that the fence was too low or the door insecure, and they had a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition?  Continue reading

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As part of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, the United States Postal Service released its dog bite numbers which showed that Chicago ranked second in the nation for dog bites of postal workers, with 59 attacks.  The same survey showed that Illinois ranked sixth in the nation for dog bites of postal workers.  The Postal Service released a list of tips to reduce the number of dog bites for postal carriers.  The dog bite lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer have handled dog bite cases for delivery people and dog bite attorney, Peter Zneimer notes that these tips would apply not only to postal workers but to any person delivering something to a residence, such as pizza delivery people, Door Dash or Uber Eats delivery people,  or Amazon delivery people:

*  If a delivery person comes to the front door, put the family dog in a separate room with a door and close the door.  The dog bite lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer have litigated more than one dog  bite case where the home owner lost control of their dog when a delivery person was at the door and the dog powered through the door crack or pushed the screen door open to bite the delivery person who the dog viewed as a threat.

*  Do not take a pizza, food delivery or package directly from the delivery person’s hands into your own hands with the family dog  in striking range.  The family dog may view this motion as a threat to the dog owner and may bite the delivery person to  protect its owner from the perceived  threat.  This is a common one.  The dog bite attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, are currently litigating two cases where the pizza delivery persons (our clients) were bit by the home owner’s dog while in the the act of handing the pizza to the home owner.

In OctDog1-224x300ober 2015, a 45-pound dog named Chelsea bit a mailman. “Walking” in a normal dog’s paws, the Illinois Appellate Court determined that the mailman’s action could have provoked Chelsea to bite him, and therefore the mailman could not recover damages from Chelsea’s owners for the dog bite.

The mailman, Mr. Claffey, was delivering the mail in Glencoe, Illinois, when his job brought him to the Huntleys’ home. The Huntleys’ front door had a mail slot and two flaps, one on the outside and one on the inside of the door. A spring kept the inside flap shut. Trying to ensure that the inside flat will not damage the mail, Mr. Claffey stuck his right hand through the mail slot, lifted the inner flap, and used the left hand to insert the mail.

In addition to a mailbox with two flaps, the Huntleys had two dogs, one of which was Chelsea. Prior to sticking his hand through the mail slot, Mr. Claffey knew that the home had dogs, and heard dogs barking before he placed his hand in the mail slot. The mailman’s mailbox activity caught Chelsea’s attention, and the dog sprung into action, and bit the mailman’s right hand. Mr. Claffey managed to pull his hand away from Chelsea’s jaws, but the top of his hand was ripped and painful. Mr. Claffey sued the Huntleys for the dog bite for damages under the Illinois Animal Control Act.

The Illinois Animal Control imposes liability on animal owners if the injured person demonstrates that he or she (1) suffered injuries from the animal; (2) was at a place where he or she had the lawful right to be; (3) conducted himself or herself peaceably; (4) and the attack was without provocation.  The statute reads as follows:

If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.

510 ILCS 5/16. Continue reading

The Chicago dog bite lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, receive many calls from personal injury victims of a dog bite. According to the CDC, over 36% of households in the United States own at least one dog.  While dogs can be close friends, sometimes this best friend will bite.  Dog bites often cause painful deep wounds, nerve damages or infection. Children become victims of dog bite more often than adults, and the injuries are more severe. The majority of the injuries occur at home with familiar dogs. As the number of dogs in a household increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten.  According to the CDC, adults “with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that in 2017 approximately 350,000 people treated at hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal dog-related injuries. Of them approximately 10,600 were children two years old or younger.
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Dog bites are unexpected, devastating, and sometimes deadly. As increasing numbers of Americans welcome canines into their homes, it is crucial to be educated about breeds and aware of the risks that may come with ownership. Pit bulls in particular have a longstanding reputation as an aggressive breed, dominating headlines about dog bite injuries that happen across the U.S.

The latest statistical information compiled by DogsBite.org reveal the grim reality behind the most fatal attacks. Between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls killed 311 people. In 2018 alone, pit bulls accounted for 72% of deaths caused by dogs in the United States. Put another way, pit bulls were the cause of 26 out of 36 total dog bite deaths.  Both adults and children are at risk for injury, with 42% of victims being children and 58% adults. Of the 26 attacks, 22 happened on the dog owner’s property. This illustrates the risks of not only owning pit bulls, but even visiting those who own them.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note that the vast majority of their dog bite cases involve pit bulls.

The costs of a dog bite does not end with medical treatment, either. Complications like infection can arise from the injuries. Facial and reconstructive surgery, not to mention therapy, can quickly add up as additional expenses. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reported over 28,000 reconstructive procedures done for dog bites in 2015. The Animal Control Act in Illinois places full liability on the owner of the dog; However, reaching a settlement can take months or years, depending on the severity of the injuries.

The Chicago attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer handle numerous dog bite cases, and have seen many cases where the bite was  not solely the dog’s fault.   Dogs are living beings who can feel startled, stressed, or in a threatening situation and can try to defend themselves by barking or biting.  Dogs have loved ones and may try to protect their puppies.  Illinois law recognizes that dogs are feeling, living creatures, and puts the burden on the dog bite victim to show that he or she was conducting himself or herself peacefully and did not provoke the dog.  The Illinois Animal Control Act provides that the dog owner is “liable in civil damages” to the victim if the dog “without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be…”  (510 ILCS 5/16).

The Animal Control Act does define what is “provocation”.  Because the statute does not define the term, the courts give the term its ordinary and popularly understood meaning within the purpose and objective of the statute. The purpose and objectives of the Animal Control Act are to “encourage tight control of animals in order to protect the public from harm. . ..” Wilcoxen v. Paige, 174 Ill. App. 3d 541, 543 (3d Dist. 1988).  Because the law applies to all dogs, it measures the provocation from the perspective of a fictional normal dog, and not from the vantage point of any one specific dog. Provocation is a question of whether the victim’s conduct would upset a normal dog to react the way the specific dog reacted.  Such fictional dog is average and “neither unusually aggressive nor unusually docile.” Kirkham v. Will, 311 Ill. App. 3d 787, 794 (5th Dist. 2000). A normal dog may react to violent conduct, and in reacting a normal dog would act proportionally. Continue reading

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