Dog Attacks Due to Broken Gates/Fences & Owner Liability

If a dog causes serious or fatal injuries in a dog attack in Illinois, the dog’s owner is liable for damages. But if certain circumstances exist that may indicate another party could hold some responsibility for the incident, such as failure to maintain a gate or fence, a McHenry County dog bite lawyer will examine whether that party could be held liable in a claim as well.

Owner Liability for a Dog Attack in Illinois

Owners can be held liable for injuries or death the dog causes, even if the owner is not found to have acted negligently. According to the Animal Control Act, if a dog attempts to attack or attacks a person who was not trespassing without provocation, civil damages may be awarded when the attack results in injuries.

The situation could be complicated if a broken fence or gate that allowed a dog to leave its fenced-in yard was caused by a party other than the owner, such as a dog sitter or a professional called upon to install the gate or fence. In such situations, a McHenry County dog bite lawyer may explore establishing that these parties were negligent and contributed to the incident.

Of course, if the owner is responsible for the broken gate, owner liability will apply. One example is when a dog is deemed dangerous and measures aren’t taken to protect others by providing an adequate barrier.

Definition of a Dangerous Dog

In Illinois, dogs that behave in such a way that it would be reasonable to expect a threat of serious bodily harm or death are expected to be kept leashed and muzzled when in a location other than the owner’s property. Dogs are also considered dangerous when without provocation it bites a person, whether or not serious harm is suffered.

Vicious dogs – dogs that attack and cause serious physical injury or death or who have been found to be dangerous on three occasions – that are kept on someone’s property must be contained within a structure, such as a fence, that is at least six feet high. These enclosures must be secure in all ways so as to prevent the dog from escaping. So when gates or fences are broken and the owner has failed to repair them, it could be considered negligence.

Damages in a Dog Attack Claim 

When someone has been seriously or fatally injured, a McHenry County dog bite lawyer can help victims recover damages that address the medical expenses incurred. This could include ambulatory services, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, rehabilitation and even cosmetic procedures to reduce scarring. A wrongful death claim may be filed if the victim was killed. This could also lead to compensation for funeral expenses.

In addition to these types of damages, serious or fatal injuries also may entitle claimants to compensation for emotional distress. The psychological harm suffered must be connected to the bodily injuries sustained in the attack.

In some cases these damages may be awarded based on “zone of danger,” which means the individual feared for his/her safety. This allows claimants to pursue damages for physical injury related to the emotional distress from the incident.

Seeking Legal Advice from a McHenry County Dog Bite Lawyer after a Dog Attack

Talking to a McHenry County dog bite lawyer is a good idea when a dog attack or bite has resulted in serious injuries. A victim or the victim’s family can go over legal rights and whether a claim against the owner and/or another party can be filed. Franks & Rechenberg can assist victims establish owner liability or the liability of others for the attack. We can evaluate the details of a case to determine the validity of a claim and the types of recoverable damages related to the dog attack.