Illinois Dog Law

Liability Statute

Under this statute, a person injured by a dog can recover damages against the dog’s owner, or those acting as the dog's custodian, if he or she proves:

  • that the dog caused the injury;
  • that the defendant owned the dog;
  • that the injured person did not provoke the attack;
  • that the injured person was acting in a peaceful manner at the time of the injury; and
  • that the injured person was in a place where he had a legal right to be at the time of the injury.

Under the statute, the plaintiff need not prove negligence. In order to recover under the common law, the plaintiff must prove that the dog owner was negligent at the time of the injury.In addition, the injured person must establish that the dog manifested disposition to bite mankind and the owner had notice of such disposition.

Vicious and Dangerous Dog Statute

The Meaning of a “Vicious Dog”

A vicious dog is one that:

  • when unprovoked, bites or attacks a human being and causes serious injury or death; and
  • has been identified as a "dangerous dog" on three separate occasions.

A dog is not deemed vicious simply because of its breed.

Legal Responsibilities of Vicious Dog Owners

Vicious dogs must be enclosed in a fence or structure at least 6 feet high that prevents entry of young children and prevents escape of the animal. The only times a vicious dog is allowed outside the enclosure are to go to the vet or to comply with a court order. During these times, the dog must be securely muzzled and restrained with a chain having a tensile strength of 300 pounds and not exceeding 3 feet in length.

The Meaning of a “Dangerous Dog”

A “dangerous dog” is one that:

  • behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified immediate threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or companion animal; or
  • without justification, bites a person and does not cause serious injury.

Liability of Owners with Dangerous Dogs

In Illinois, each county regulates the liability of dangerous dog owners.

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