An individual injured by a dog bite may have a cause of action against the dog’s owner.
Due to the extensive injuries that can result from a dog bite, Iowa has enacted a statute that governs dog bite lawsuits. To recover under the statute, the dog must have either been caught in the act of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal, or the dog must have been in the middle of attacking or attempting to attack a person. Under Iowa law, those individuals committing an unlawful act at the time of the injury cannot recover under the statute. If all of the elements are satisfied, then the owner of the dog is liable for all damages that flow as a natural result from the actions of the dog. This statute is a strict liability statute, and in bringing the cause of action, one does not need to prove that the owner was negligent in any way.
Illinois also has a specific statute governing dog owner liability. Illinois provides that one may recover from the dog’s owner only when the individual did not provoke the dog, and when they are in a location where they are lawfully entitled to be. If an individual is not able to proceed with a cause of action under the statute because they cannot satisfy one of the above elements, they may instead bring a common-law negligence claim against the owner of the dog.
In both states, the damages are the same. While some dog bites can cause minimal damages, others can cause extreme and long-term damages. The amount of damages that one may recover depends on the severity of the attack. Dog bites can result in surgery, infections, permanent scarring, and disfigurement. An individual may also have permanent mental distress from a dog attack, and require counseling. A claim for damages would include past and future medical expenses, past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, past and future disability or loss of function of the body, and any lost wages or earning capacity as a result of the attack.