Get To Know The 2023 Illinois Dog Bite Laws


    As of 2023, the state of Illinois has some of the strictest dog bite laws in the United States. These laws are in place to protect both people and animals from the potential harm that can result from dog bites. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the Illinois dog bite laws and what pet owners and victims of dog bites should know.

    What is a Dog Bite Injury? 

    dog bite lawyer

    In Illinois, a dog bite is defined as an injury caused by a dog's teeth piercing or tearing a person's skin. This can include scratches, puncture wounds, and lacerations. However, it is important to note that a dog does not have to actually bite a person for the owner to be held liable. If a dog causes an injury by knocking someone over or scratching them, the owner can still be held responsible.

    Strict Liability

    Illinois has a strict liability law when it comes to dog bites. This means that the owner of a dog is liable for any injuries caused by the dog as a result of the animal attack, regardless of whether the owner knew the dog was capable of such behavior. This is different from other states, which may require that the owner have prior knowledge of the dog's aggressive tendencies.

    The only exception to this rule is if the victim was trespassing on the owner's property or intentionally provoking the dog. In these cases, the owner may not be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog.

    Statute of Limitations

    Victims of dog bites in Illinois have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit against the dog's owner. If the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations is extended until two years after their 18th birthday.


    If the injured person successfully sues the owner, they may be awarded damages to compensate for their injuries. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, the court may also order the owner to pay punitive damages to punish them for their negligence.

    Dangerous Dogs

    In addition to the strict liability law, Illinois also has a dangerous dog law. This law allows local municipalities to declare a dog to be dangerous if it has killed or seriously injured a person or another animal. Once a dog is declared dangerous, the owner must take certain steps to ensure the safety of others.

    These steps can include registering the dog with the local animal control agency, keeping the dog contained in a secure area, and posting a warning sign on the property where the dog is kept. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in fines and even the confiscation of the dog.

    If you are the victim of a dog bite, it is important to seek medical attention right away. You may also want to consult with a personal injury lawyer to seek legal advice and explore your options. By understanding the state's dog bite laws, you can protect yourself and others from the potential harm that can result from these incidents.

    Steps to take after a dog bite 

    drunk driver accident (2)

    Being attacked by a dog can be a traumatic experience, especially for children who may be more vulnerable to these types of incidents. If you or your child have been bitten by a dog, it is important to take the following steps:

    1. Seek medical attention: The first thing you should do after a dog bite is to seek medical attention. Even if the wound seems minor, it is important to have it checked by a medical professional to prevent infection and ensure proper healing.
    2. Report the incident: After seeking medical attention, you should report the incident to local animal control authorities. This can help prevent future incidents and ensure that the dog is properly restrained or removed from the area.
    3. Gather information: If possible, gather information about the dog and its owner, including their name, address, and phone number, and other contact information. This information can be useful if you decide to pursue legal action.
    4. Consult with a dog bite attorney — professionally known as a personal injury lawyer: If you or your child have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases to explore your legal options.

    A dog bite lawyer who specializes in dog bite claims can help you understand your rights and options for seeking compensation. They can also help you gather evidence to support your case, such as medical records, witness statements, and photographs of the injury.

    In Illinois, a personal injury lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the dog's owner to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They can also help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

    Dog bite victims can experience a lengthy physical and psychological recovery after the incident. Depending on the severity of the bite, victims may require extensive medical treatment, including surgery, stitches, and antibiotics. They may also experience ongoing pain and discomfort, scarring, and difficulty performing daily activities.

    In addition to physical injuries, dog bite victims may also experience psychological trauma. They may develop a fear of dogs or experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. Children who are bitten by dogs may also experience developmental delays, academic struggles, and social isolation.

    Recovering from a dog bite can be a long and difficult process, but seeking compensation for your injuries can help ease the financial burden of medical bills and lost wages. It can also provide a sense of justice and closure for victims, helping them move forward with their lives.

    If you or your child have been bitten by a dog, it is important to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases. They can help you understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation, as well as provide support and guidance throughout the recovery process.

    Dog bites can cause a variety of injuries, including lacerations, puncture wounds, and crushing injuries. These injuries can result in different types of scarring, which can have a significant impact on a victim's physical and emotional well-being.

    One common type of scarring that can occur after a dog bite is hypertrophic scarring. This occurs when the body produces too much collagen during the healing process, causing the scar to become raised and thick. Hypertrophic scars can be itchy and painful, and they may restrict movement if they form over a joint.

    Keloid scars are another type of raised scar that can occur after a dog bite. Keloids are similar to hypertrophic scars, but they extend beyond the boundaries of the original wound and can continue to grow over time. Keloids are more common in people with darker skin tones, and they can be difficult to treat.

    Dog bites can also cause atrophic scarring, which occurs when the skin depresses or sinks in around the wound. Atrophic scars can be more difficult to see than raised scars, but they can still cause emotional distress for the victim.

    In addition to the physical scarring, dog bites can also cause emotional scarring. Victims may feel self-conscious or embarrassed about their scars, which can impact their confidence and quality of life. It is important for victims to seek emotional support as well as physical treatment to address the emotional impact of their injuries.

    Dog bites can cause a variety of scarring, including hypertrophic, keloid, and atrophic scars. These scars can have a significant impact on a victim's physical and emotional well-being, and it is important for victims to seek treatment and emotional support to address both aspects of their recovery.

    In addition to physical treatment, dog bite victims may also benefit from psychological treatment to address the emotional impact of their injuries. There are several different approaches to psychological treatment that may be helpful for dog bite victims.

    One type of treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT can help dog bite victims overcome fear and anxiety related to dogs and can also address any other negative thoughts or beliefs that may be impacting their emotional well-being.

    Exposure therapy is another approach that may be helpful for dog bite victims. This involves gradually exposing the person to dogs in a controlled and safe environment, allowing them to build confidence and reduce their fear and anxiety.

    Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another type of therapy that can be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to a dog bite. EMDR involves recalling traumatic events while engaging in rapid eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation, which can help the brain process and reframe the traumatic memories.

    Mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can also be helpful for dog bite victims in reducing stress and anxiety. These techniques can help victims learn to regulate their emotions and manage the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress.

    In addition to these approaches, support groups can also be beneficial for dog bite victims. Connecting with others who have experienced similar traumas can provide a sense of community and validation, and can also help victims feel less alone in their recovery process.

    It is important for dog bite victims to seek both physical and psychological treatment to address the full impact of their injuries. Working with a healthcare professional who understands the physical and emotional aspects of dog bites can help victims achieve a full and healthy recovery.

    Currently, dog owners in Illinois are liable for any medical damages their dogs cause victims to suffer through bites or other attacks. To recover compensation for his or her medical bills resulting from a dog attack, the victim does not need to show that the dog’s owner was negligent. To recover other types of compensation, such as compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering damages, the victim must show that the owner was somehow negligent and that this negligence caused the bite to occur.

    There are two circumstances that release a dog’s owner from his or her liability for a victim’s damages: cases where the victim was trespassing when the bite occurred and cases where the victim provoked the dog into attacking. After any dog bite, the dog must be reported to local Animal Services and confined for at least 10 days. Confined dogs may not be released until they have undergone veterinary examinations.

    Updates to Illinois dog bite laws

    PLG Blog Images (75)

    The 2016 changes to the Illinois Animal Control Act gave dog owners new responsibilities following bites. They are:

    * The owner or caretaker of the dog must have it examined by a licensed veterinarian within 24 hours of the bite;

    * If the dog is not already microchipped, it must be by the end of its confinement period at the owner’s expense; and

    * If the dog has not had a rabies shot, it must receive one at its owner’s expense by the end of its confinement period.

    Failure to comply with these regulations is a criminal offense. One’s first offense is a Class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are charged as Class 4 felonies.

    Amends the Animal Control Act. Provides that "dangerous dog" and "vicious dog" include dogs that attack companion animals. Requires the owner of a dog that has been deemed dangerous or vicious to place a sign by the owner's front door with a notice that a dangerous or vicious dog is kept or maintained at the residence and maintain a liability insurance policy insuring against liability involving a dog-related incident for injury to a person or injury to or destruction of property. Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish and maintain the Illinois Dangerous Dog Registry. Provides that the Registry shall include registration information on a statewide basis. Specifies the information that the Registry shall include about each dangerous or vicious dog. Provides that the address of the owner, the name and breed of the dog, and the acts that resulted in the dog being deemed vicious or dangerous shall be made available to the public on the Department's website. Requires the Department to make the public information searchable via a mapping system that identifies all locations where vicious or dangerous dogs are kept or maintained within 5 miles of an identified address. Requires the Department to set fees for the annual registration of dangerous and vicious dogs. Creates the Dangerous Dog Registry Fund, and provides that any funds collected shall be deposited into the Fund and used by the Department to maintain the Registry and the searchable mapping system on the Department's website. Makes a corresponding change in the State Finance Act.

    Throughout the United States, many locations have passed specific laws that determine when and how dog owners are held liable for dog bites. These laws can be broadly divided into two categories: strict liability rules and one-bite rules.

    Strict Liability

    In strict liability states, dog owners are always responsible for a bite that occurs on public property or when the victim is lawfully on private property.

    Unless the dog is provoked or the bite victim was trespassing, the owner will generally be required to cover all damages associated with the bite. This is true even if the animal has never bitten before.

    One Bite

    In one bite states, by contrast, dog owners are usually held responsible for a bite only if there was reason to suspect the dog had a propensity to attack. This doesn’t always mean the dog must have actually bitten someone before, but there must be some evidence to suggest a bite could have happened such as aggression or an attack on other animals.

    In one bite states, it may be possible for bite victims to recover from dog owners under other legal rules, such as negligence, if they can prove the owner was unreasonably careless–even if the dog hasn’t bitten before. But, recovery under specific dog bite laws isn’t possible unless there was a history of a problem with the animal before the incident occurred.

    Find a Chicago-area lawyer today

    If you have been injured in a dog attack, it is important to understand your legal rights and to seek legal advice from an experienced dog bite lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process.

    Contact the law firm of Palermo Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with our team of experts.




    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

    Request a Free Legal Consultation

    Recently Published

    Recent Outcomes

    $1.3 Million

    Mr. Palermo obtained $1.3 million dollars for an airline employee who was injured on the job.


    Palermo obtained $800,000 for the family of 63-year-old woman who died after gallbladder removal surgery.


    Palermo obtained $400,000 for a 28-year-old woman from Aurora that was the victim of a hit-and-run.