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Illinois Dog Bite Laws

Although it can be unexpected when a pet dog bites someone, it does happen and can cause serious injuries. Some states impose liability on a dog owner if the dog has previously bitten someone or has been declared dangerous, essentially making dog owners liable if they knew or should have known the animal had "vicious propensities." Other states, such as Illinois, always hold dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog.

In legal terms, "strictly liable" basically means that the plaintiff doesn't have to prove any negligence on the defendant's part. In contrast, suing someone for negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that a defendant acted in a careless way (like failing to maintain their pet on a leash) which led to the plaintiff's injury.

Overview of Illinois Dog Bite Laws

In the table below, you'll find an overview of dog bite laws in Illinois as well as links to applicable statutes. While reading an overview is very helpful to understand the law better, please remember that it's important to also read the actual statute and to consult with an attorney if you have questions.


Illinois Statutes, Chapter 510:

When is a Dog Owner Liable?

If a dog (or other animal) attacks or injures someone who's peacefully conducting themselves in any place they're legally allowed to be, the dog (or animal) owner will be civilly liable for the damages that result from the injuries.

Additionally, under Illinois dog bite laws, the owner (or keeper) of a dog is liable for damages caused by their dog chasing, worrying, injuring, or killing someone else's farm animals (i.e. cattle, sheep, goats, etc.)

Time Limit for Filing Civil Action

In Illinois, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim - including injuries from a dog bite - is 2 years.

Available Defenses

It's a defense from liability if the dog (or other animal) attacked only after being provoked.

Criminal Charges

A person who conceals, gives away, sells, euthanizes their dog, or otherwise fails to comply with the Administrator's instructions when instructed to turn over the dog for observation can be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for a first violation, and a Class 4 felony for any subsequent violations.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Illinois Dog Bite Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like additional information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.

Learn More About Illinois Dog Bite Laws: Speak with a Local Attorney

Being attacked by someone's pet dog can be a traumatic experience, and you may be entitled to damages for your injuries. Contact a local animal and dog bite attorney to find out how Illinois dog bite laws apply to your unique situation.

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