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 held to a normal dog standard and a normal dog does not overreact. In the case above, had the dog acted more viciously than a normal dog would in response to the stepping on the tail, the child would have been able to recover. In that case the dog would not have acted as a normal dog. In contrast, a child who fell into a sleeping dog could recover because the dog’s reaction was disproportionate. In response to the fall, the dog bit the child several times and caused serious injuries. Wade v. Rich, 249 Ill. App. 3d 581 (1993). In the end, humans decide what a normal dog would do.
If you have suffered a dog bite injury, know that the law is intricate and you will need help. Our office can be by your side to help you navigate the Animal Control Act and seek compensation. Contact us if you need help.