Many of us love our furry friends and would never expect a dog to hurt us. Unfortunately, however, dog attacks do happen, and the resulting injuries can be serious. So, who is liable when a dog bites someone? In many states, owners are only responsible if they have a reason to believe that their dog might hurt someone, for example, if their dog has bitten someone before. In Illinois, however, dog owners are liable if their dog hurts someone, regardless of whether the owner had any forewarning that their dog might be dangerous.
What Does Illinois Law Say About Liability in a Dog Attack?
When it comes to dog bites, Illinois is a strict liability state, which means that a dog bite victim does not need to prove that the dog owner acted negligently. Under 510 ILCS 5/16, “If a dog or other animal, 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, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages.” A dog owner does not need to believe that their dog might be aggressive. If their dog bites someone, even if it is the first time this has happened, they are liable. This would not apply if the victim provoked the dog or was on the dog owner’s property illegally.