Chicago Dog Bite Laws Explained: Legal Protections & Duties

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Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2024 at 1:47 am    

Chicago Dog Bite Laws Explained_ Legal Protections & Duties

If you’re a dog owner or someone who has been bitten by a dog in Chicago, it’s crucial to understand the city’s laws surrounding dog bites and the legal protections and duties that apply in these situations. Chicago has specific ordinances in place that hold dog owners responsible for their pets’ actions, and knowing your rights and obligations under these laws can make a significant difference in the outcome of a dog bite case. From the “one bite” rule to strict liability and the defenses available to dog owners, navigating the complexities of Chicago’s dog bite laws can be challenging without the guidance of an experienced attorney.

Dog Bite Prevention and Responsibilities Among Chicago Dog Owners

Chicago’s Municipal Code requires dog owners to restrain their animals. Specifically, it is unlawful for:

  • A dog’s owner to allow the dog to be outside without a leash off their property (even if this simply involves digging under a fence and crossing the property line)
  • A dog’s owner to allow their dog to be outdoors without a leash on any unfenced areas of their property
  • A dog’s owner to allow their dog to dog to threaten, attack, or jump on someone else without their consent

In situations in which the law requires a dog to be on a leash, the law also requires the dog to be under someone’s control. That person can be the dog’s owner or another responsible individual.

The presence of a fence doesn’t always mean a dog can be without a leash on someone’s property. If the fence isn’t high enough to prevent a dog from escaping, under the law, they are not properly restrained. The fence must also be sturdy enough to confine a dog to the property.

Penalties for Violating Chicago Dog Bite Laws

Penalties for violating the above Chicago dog bite law can vary depending on critical factors. Penalties may consist of:

  • A $300 fine for a violation that doesn’t result in severe injury, death, or property damage
  • A fine of $1,000 to $10,000 for a violation that does result in severe injury or death

When a dog bite results in severe injury or death, additional penalties may include any of the following or a combination of them:

  • A requirement to provide full restitution to a victim
  • A jail term of no more than six months
  • 100 hours of community service

If a violation results in property damage, penalties may include:

  • A minimum fine of $300 and a maximum fine of $1,000
  • A requirement to pay full restitution to a victim

Reporting Dog Bites in Chicago

Cook County, Illinois residents should report dog bites within 24 hours of their occurrence. They may do so by contacting the local police. In unincorporated parts of Cook County, they may report dog bites to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Illinois law also requires that dogs be confined for a minimum of 10 days after they bite someone. During this period of confinement, a licensed veterinarian must monitor the dog. Thus, a dog’s owner might have to present the dog to a licensed veterinarian within 24 hours of an attack.

However, it’s sometimes acceptable to confine a dog to an owner’s home after an attack. The law permits this when the owner confines the dog in a way that will prevent it from harming people.

Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Chicago: Owner Liability for Dog Attacks

Chicago Dog Bite Laws Explained_ Legal Protections & DutiesIn Illinois, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for injuries a victim sustains when their dog attacks someone. In some states, a dog’s owner may only be liable if an attack resulted from their carelessness.

Illinois is different. It doesn’t matter whether a dog’s owner was careless or whether they had prior knowledge of their dog’s viciousness. If the dog bites someone, a victim can seek compensation for their losses by filing a claim with the owner’s insurance. However, a victim might not be eligible to receive compensation if a dog attacked them because they provoked it.

It’s not necessary for a dog bite victim to submit evidence of negligence on the part of a dog’s owner when filing a claim. That said, gathering this evidence could strengthen a case.

Contact a Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer

Have you been injured in a dog attack in Chicago? You deserve compensation for your injuries and related losses if so.

The process of pursuing compensation can be complicated. Don’t burden yourself with this process when you should be taking it easy and recovering from your injuries.

At Wallace Miller, a Chicago dog bite lawyer can review your case, explain your legal options, and provide the representation you need when negotiating with an insurance company. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (312) 261-6193 for a free case review.

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