“Dangerous” and “Vicious” Dogs under the Illinois Dangerous Dog Statute

Dog Bite AttorneyAccording to a study conducted by Michigan State University College of Law, about five million people in the United States fall victim to dog bites every year. Only 800,000 people out of this number have been reported to seek medical treatment for their injuries, while fortunately, only a small fraction of these attacks are fatal.

Since injuries from dog attacks and bites are considered a threat to public health and safety, 39 states, including Illinois have strict laws and special rules in place that put a great deal of emphasis on dog owners to regular their dog’s behavior and train them properly so that they don’t exhibit violent behaviors.

Definition of a Dangerous Dog

A dangerous dog is one that exhibits or engages in actions that put people or animals at risk of injury or death. Here are a few acts and behaviors that can label a dog as dangerous:

  • Injures a human being
  • Kills a human being
  • Is trained or engages in animal fighting
  • Aggressively attacks, bites, or endangers a human being or damages private or public property
  • Bites or injures a person without being provoked
  • Kills or injures a domestic animal, such as livestock, cats, and others, while off the owner’s property
  • Attacks a person in a manner that makes them believe the dog posed a serious threat to that person or another person, even if the injury does not occur – however, actions like growling, barking, or bearing teeth does not count.

Understanding how a Dog Transitions from being “Dangerous” into “Vicious”

The Animal Control Act has classified dogs using terms dangerous and vicious, and there are specific laws surrounding these terms that apply on these owners and their dogs.

Dangerous Dog

A dog showing a tendency that it may bite or injure someone in the near future is said to be a dangerous dog. The Animal Control Act defines a dangerous dog as:

  • A dog exhibiting behavior that would be threatening while it is not on its owner’s property, unleashed, unmuzzled, or otherwise unattended
  • A dog biting or causing a minor physical injury without any justification

For example, a dog that barks at anyone who knocks on the door will not be considered dangerous as it is present on its owner’s property. However, if it jumps on someone on a public sidewalk, it would then be considered dangerous.

Vicious Dog

If a dog causes a serious bite or physical injury to another person, it is declared a vicious dog. According to the Animal Control Act, a vicious dog is one that:

  • Attacks with any justification and causes serious injury or death
  • Has been declared a dangerous dog three times on separate occasions

For example, if a dog attacks a person who harmed it or broke inside a home, its actions will not qualify it as a vicious dog because it was provoked.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been bitten or injured by a dangerous or vicious dog, you should consult your case with an experienced Lake County dog bite attorney to see whether Illinois dog bite law applies. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. at (847) 395-2200 or online today to schedule your initial consultation with our firm.

Euthanization of Vicious Dog Heads to Lake County Court

The case of a dog that was scheduled to be euthanized in 2013 after several case of biting people over a five year span will be reviewed in Lake County Court today. According to authorities the dog had bitten a person in Florida several years ago, and several people in Hawthorn Woods between 2008 and 2012, thus being deemed vicious. After the owners brought the dog back to Hawthorn Woods the dog yet again attacked in 2013, when a court order was issued to have the dog put down.

Robert Edens is a Lake County personal injury lawyer who also represents victims of animal attacks, including dog bite injuries. To schedule a free consultation contact our offices today at (847) 395-2200.


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America’s Love of Dogs Leads to Increased Liability

There is no argument that Americans love their pets, and this is especially true for dogs. In fact, there has been a lot of growth in recent years in industries that cater to pets and pet owners. One industry group projects that pet owners in the U.S. will spend up to $60.59 billion on their pets in 2015. However, the rise in pampered pets has also led to a rise in another area of law, specifically involving dog bites and attacks. According to a recent review, almost one third of homeowners’ liability claims in the United States can be attributed to dog bite claims. Being bitten by someone else’s pet can lead to serious injury and even death, and it is important to know your rights if you or someone you love has been bitten.

Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage

Most people who own their own home have insurance that will provide them with coverage in the event that someone is injured on their property. People expect that such coverage extends to slip and fall accidents, open hazards and damage caused by family members. What often slips under the radar is the fact that a person may also be liable for damage caused to others by their pets, and that these damages are typically covered under a homeowner’s insurance policies.

How to Recover

Unfortunately for victims of dog bites, their injuries tend to occur very quickly and involve personal relationships such as neighbors, friends and family members. No pet owner wants to believe that their beloved dog is capable of causing serious harm to someone, so these types of injuries can be downplayed or quickly covered up by a fast offer of settlement. It may take the form of the dog’s owner offering to pay for a medical bill out of the kindness of their heart, but in reality it is often far too little to cover the actual damages caused by the dog’s aggressiveness. It may take facing legal action for the homeowner to realize that they should submit a claim to their insurer in order to obtain sufficient money to provide complete relief to the dog bite victim.


When an animal bites someone, it is often more dangerous than other wounds made by man-made objects like knives. This is because an animal’s teeth are designed to tear and rip, similarly to human teeth, and unlike metal blades or other man-made objects, those teeth are covered in the same bacteria that grow and live inside the animal’s mouth. When a dog bites, those teeth can act as a direct conduit, transferring the dog’s mouth bacteria directly into the person’s body via the wound. Among other possible damage (i.e. rabies), this risk of infection is one reason that an injured person may want to seek treatment and be on their way to recovery before accepting any offers of settlement in a dog bite case. A bite that appears to be superficial at first has the potential to turn into a long-lasting and complicated infection if not treated properly.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.
If you or someone you know has been bitten or attacked by a dog, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Buffalo Grove today. We can discuss your situation and help you assess the full spectrum of damages that you are entitled to recover.




When the Dog Bites: Not So Favorite Things

As every American knows, dog bites are not on the list of favorite things as sung by the children in the Sound of Music.  In fact, they are (along with bee stings) in the list of reasons why we have to remember our happy list.  While the song is a beloved favorite of generations of Americans, it also trivializes what can actually be a severely debilitating incident.  Some people who are bitten by dogs in their youth often grow up to be afraid of all dogs, which means that the impact of that one incident carries consequences far into their future. Ensuring that a person who is bitten by a dog receives the proper care can be the difference between them fully recovering and being affected for life.

Dog Bite Injuries: Generally

Many people may not realize that animal bites, and dog bites in particular, require immediate medical attention.  According to one study, dog bites account for more than 90% of all animal bites in the United States.  What is even more troubling is that dog bites can typically lead to deep tissue or muscle damage that requires reconstructive surgery to fix, if it can be repaired at all.  Adding to this information is the fact that a dog bite, unlike a cut or scrape, means that the animal’s teeth are breaking through the protective layers of a person’s body, which allows any bacteria in the dog’s mouth to be transferred easily to the bloodstream and tissues of the victim. Without thorough cleaning, these bacteria can lead to serious infection that may or may not be treatable down the road.


Luckily for anyone who has been the victim of a dog bite, there are laws in place to protect them.  Most states, Illinois included, have dog bite statutes that provide guidance as to who is responsible for the dog’s actions, and how much a person can recover to help them receive medical care so that they may begin the healing process.  According to Illinois law, a victim may bring a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that bit them within two years of the incident to recover damages.  The victim will need to be able to prove that the dog attacked or injured them, that they were not trespassing, and that the animal was not provoked.  The law also protects someone who was not bitten, but was still injured by a dog’s actions (i.e. injured after being knocked down by a dog while walking on the sidewalk).

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.
Dog bites can cause very serious and long-lasting injuries. Don’t let someone’s pet cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills.  If you or someone you know has been bitten or injured by someone else’s dog in Grayslake, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today for a consultation.  Our professionals have over 20 years of experience working on personal injury cases, and can help you obtain the money you deserve to help you get back on track.


Once Bitten, Twice Shy? Why the One Free Bite Rule Is Not Always the Case

Traditionally, dog bite cases hinged on one fact: whether the dog had a penchant for, or history of, biting people.  Over the past decade, this viewpoint, and the law behind it, has been changing as Americans have grown increasingly intolerant of pets that bite.  The factors behind this shift are not entirely clear, but the possible causes include increased publicity of dog-bite cases nationwide and the larger numbers of Americans who own dogs, which are some reasons many states have created dog bite statutes that trump the common law ‘one bite rule.’

Common Law Rule

Whenever someone references the “one bite rule” when talking about a dog biting a person, they are essentially citing the common law rule governing dog bites if a state does not have a statute specifically addressing dog bite cases.  Pursuant to the one bite rule, dog owners are only liable for injuries caused by their dog if they had reason to know that it was likely to bite someone.  What this generally meant as far as courtroom evidence was concerned was that the dog’s owner was entitled to “one liability-free bite” involving their dog so long as the dog did not previously exhibit aggressive tendencies.  While this rule is not absolute, it is upheld in many states, as the alternative typically involves a dog owner losing their companion; an outcome that does not present well in a courtroom.

Dog Bite Statutes

In response to the increased perception that certain dog breeds are more dangerous than others, and therefore cause more damage to society, many states have created dog bite statutes imputing more liability on dog owners for the actions of their animals, regardless of prior bite history.  For example, in Illinois, if a dog bites another person, the animal control act requires that the animal be immediately confined under the observation of a licensed veterinarian for ten days.  The dog is then subject to a clinical examination by a veterinarian and/or animal behaviorist who may label the dog dangerous or vicious.  Under the laws of Illinois, these designations carry with them increased fines and responsibilities for the owner of the dog that include increased leash and muzzle requirements.

These dog bite statutes often also apply to police dogs who bite people outside of their roles for the police department.  While it is true that police dogs are treated differently than pets as their job requirements often require that they bite perpetrators of crimes, the protections are not without their limits.  One element that is not involved with pet dogs, but that often arises when a police dog bites a person, is the protections provided under federal civil rights statutes against the use of unreasonable force during arrests.  If it is found that a police officer utilized a police dog when it was not necessary, it may result in a finding of liability against the municipality involved.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.

If you, or someone you love, has been bitten by a pet or police dog, contact the professionals at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. who can talk to you about your options under the law.


The Need for a Dog Bite Lawyer

Pet ownership is both a privilege and a responsibility. As much as pets can be a joy for your family or provide companionship, they can also be a danger to those in your community. Pets can behave irrationally; sometimes they feel challenged during seemingly innocent encounters. When a dog perceives danger, whether real or imagined, they attack. When pet owners raise aggressive dogs, fail to properly discipline their dogs, or negligently raise their dogs, other people pay the price. Even responsible dog owners can find their dogs acting in a threatening manner. Here are some helpful tips about dog bite cases:


Dog bite statutes in Illinois allow the victim of a dog bite to sue the “owner” of the dog. Although the word “owner” normally means the person who bought the dog, the statute has a more liberal view. Under Illinois law an “owner” of a dog is “any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her.” (510 ILCS 5/2.16.)


In Illinois a dog bite case requesting damages must begin with a physical injury. This means you can recover for your medical bills, treatment, and therapy so long as they are connected to the actual injury. Once you have demonstrated that you have an injury, you can add on other damages. These may include emotional distress or trauma that you suffer from the physical attack or other psychological damage you have suffered as a result.

Strict Liability

Illinois uses “strict liability” in dog bite cases. This means that it is not a defense for an owner to claim that they did not have notice of their dog’s aggressive behaviors. If you are the owner of a dog, and that dog attacks someone and causes injury, you are liable. The only available defenses for a dog owner are to demonstrate that the victim was trespassing or that the victim provoked the dog and caused the dog to attack them. A trespasser does not have a right to claim that the dog attacked them for no reason. Similarly, someone who teases or provokes a dog cannot then claim that the dog was at fault for its behavior.

McHenry and Lake County Personal Injury Attorneys

In general, it is never a good idea to provoke a dog. Dogs often show signs of danger before they attack. This can be in the form of hair raised along their backs, growling or barking, or staring in an aggressive manner. If a dog behaves this way, you should not approach them or try to calm them, but slowly try to back away. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you are entitled to compensation from the owner of that dog. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today for a free consultation.