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The Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C.

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8/4/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Will My Dog Bite Leave A Scar?

If you have been bitten by a dog, then it is highly likely that wounds will leave a scar. If you have questions, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – (312) 263-1080.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/3/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Illinois Dog Bite Laws and Your Chicago Dog Bite Claim

Illinois has strict law regarding unprovoked dog attacks. If you have been injured in an animal attack in Illinois, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – 312-263-1080

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/3/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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I’ve Been Bitten By a Dog. Can I Get An Infection?

If you have been bitten by a dog in Chicago, then YES, you can get a number of infections. If you have questions, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – (312) 263-1080.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/2/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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I’ve Been Attacked by a Dog in Illinois. How Much Can I Recover?

If you have been bitten by someone else’s dog, you may be eligible for compensation in an Illinois dog bite claim. If you have questions, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – 312-263-1080.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

7/29/2010
Advocate for the Injured
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Dog Attack Fatalities in 2010

If your child has been injured or killed in a dog bite incident, a Chicago dog bite attorney can help you file your personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

7/29/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Preventing Dog Bites

Here are some tips you can teach your children in order to prevent dog bites. If you or a loved one has been involved in a dog bite incident, a Chicago dog bite attorney from the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can help you file your personal injury claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

7/28/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Criminal Penalties in a Dog Attack Case

Criminal penalties can be given to a dog owner if their dog attacks someone. If you or a loved one has been involved in a dog bite incident, a Chicago dog bite attorney from the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can help you file your personal injury claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

3/9/2010
Barry Doyle
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A woman from South Carolina died last week following a dog bite attack from a pit bull owned by her nephew.  The autopsy performed on the woman showed that she had an enlarged heart which may have left her predisposed to having a heart attack.

This story brought to mind a truism in the law which is that the tort defendant takes his victim as he finds him.  It is also referred to as the eggshell plaintiff rule.

What this means is that even when the accident victim has a preexisting condition which left him or her more susceptible to injury, the defendant is liable for all of the damages that he causes, even if it is more than you might have otherwise expected.  An example of this is if the victim had a skull that was as thin as an eggshell and was killed as a result of a glancing blow, the defendant is still liable for the wrongful death.

Because of that rule, in this case, the owner of dog is still liable for the death of this woman even though she had an enlarged heart which left her predisposed to having a heart attack during a dog bite attack.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

2/21/2010
Barry Doyle
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There was a piece in the Morris Daily Herald recently about a lawsuit that was filed by Farmers Insurance Company regarding a dog bite claim.  The origin of the case was that a little girl was bitten by a dog owned by the Farmers insured.

The little girl's mother was the girlfriend of the son of the dog owners.  After the little girl was bitten, her father filed a dog bite lawsuit against the dog owners to recover for the damages his daughter sustained.  The dog owners, who were insured by Farmers, turned the suit over to them, expecting that they would be defended by the insurance company -- after all, that was why they paid premiums to the insurance company.

Instead, Farmers has filed a lawsuit asking for a judicial determination that there is no coverage for  the little girl's claim.  Their position is that the little girl and her mother were actually residing at the home with dog owners and therefore are excluded from coverage under the terms of the dog owners' homeowner's insurance policy.

Without taking a position on the merits of Farmers position, or whether it is right from a moral point of view, there is one point that is crucial: if Farmers gets out of covering this claim, then the little girl will probably not receive any compensation for her injuries.  This is because homeowner's insurance is the main source of compensation for dog bite victims.



Category: Dog Bite Attacks

2/16/2010
Barry Doyle
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The Bolingbrook Sun came out with an article which discusses the difficulties that some dog owners have geeting liability insurance coverage for dog bite attacks.  This is an important issue for both pet owners (before an attack) and for dog bite attack victims (after an attack).

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

2/8/2010
Barry Doyle
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Two girls from Maryland are recovering dog bite injuries that they suffered when they were attacked by two pit bulls that were owned by a neighbor.  The dogs were normally kept on a chain, but they were loose the day that they attacked the two girls.

One thing that contributes to dog bite attacks is when there are more than one dog together.  This is known pack behavior, and tends to increase the aggressiveness of any one dog in the pack.  Many serious dog bite attack happen when there are multiple dogs loose in a pack.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

1/20/2010
Barry Doyle
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UPS driver suffers dog bite, loses finger tip

Dog bites suffered by delivery men can be the basis of a worker's compensation case as well as a liability suit against the dog owner.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

12/5/2009
Barry Doyle
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Earlier this week in Virginia, a woman was viciously attacked by two dogs outside of a day care center being operated out of the home of the owner of the dogs.  The two dogs inflicted such serious injuries that 170 staples were required to close wounds from the dog bites.

This lady has obviously suffered serious injuries as a result of this dog bite attack, and you have to wonder what the owner was thinking having these dogs near children and what the state was thinking allowing a day care center to  operate in a home with dogs like that nearby.

One other question that will prove to be important for the victim of this dog bite attack is how she will be compensated.  Normally, dogs bite attacks are covered by the homeowner's insurance policy for the dog owner, but since this occurred on a property that was at least mixed-use, perhaps the commercial insurance policy for the day care will apply.  This is a significant question for the victim because commercial policies tend to carry much higher limits and can provide significantly more compensation for the dog bite victim.

This is a question that an experienced persona injury lawyer would know to ask -- and get and answer to -- before trying to settle this woman's dog bite claim.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

10/31/2009
Barry Doyle
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A pit bull attacked a 5 year old California boy last week, biting him in the face and ripping his cheek off.  The boy survived the attack after other children got an adult who was able to get the dog off the boy.

When children are the victims of dog bite attacks, the key elements of the damages involved are medical expenses (past and future), pain and suffering (past and future, and disfigurement.  In many cases, the medical expenses are surprisingly low.  In this case, however, they will be enormous.

In most dog bite cases, disfigurement is the single most significant element of damages.  This relates to the scarring from the injury and the impact it has on the life of the dog bite victim.  Because children frequently are not able to control the impulse to look at something unusual appearing such as bad scarring on the face, a child dog bite victim is likely to be self-conscious of his/her appearance in ways that the child's parents may not even be aware. 

As experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers, when we represent children who are the victims of dog bites, we frequently seek the testimony of people around the child such as teachers, babysitters, friend's parents, other relatives, or camp counselors to share their observations of how people act around the child.  Telling the same story from a number of different views is compelling evidence of the impact that the injury has had on the child's life and shows the damages in ways that even photographs of dog bite injuries could not.



Category: Dog Bite Attacks

10/31/2009
Barry Doyle
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While making reminder to everyone about adjusting their clocks, we would also like to remind everyone to check their homeowner's insurance to make sure that they are covered if their dog bites someone else.

The numbers on dog bite claims are staggering, both in terms of the sheer numbers as well as the costs per claim.  To limit their losses for dog bite claims, many carriers that write homeowner's insurance are including policy exclusions for dog bite claims caused by certain breeds of dogs (pit bulls in particular) that are considered to be more aggressive than others.  Unfortunately, these exclusions are valid and often buried in fine print.  This leaves the dog owbers exposed to personal liability for dog bite injuries.

As experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers, if you are a dog owner, we encourage you to disclose to your agent the fact that you own a dog and to review with him whether your dog is covered in the event of a dog bite.  Dog bite accidents are hard to prevent, so the best course of action is to make sure that you have good coverage if one happens.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

10/11/2009
Barry Doyle
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A 5 year old girl from Pennsylvania is in the hospital after being attacked a German Shepherd which bit her in the throat.  After several hours of surgery, she is on a ventilator and will likely be in the hospital for about a month.  The dog bite attack happened at a farm that the girl and her mother went to visit.  The dog was roaming the property unleashed and unattended, and the girl and her mother had petted the dog several times before the attack.

After the attack, authorities determined that the dog had been involved in three other dog bite attacks, including one where the victim's ear was ripped off.  After that dog bite attack, the dog owner had been ordered to keep the dog in an enclosure or to keep the dog leashed and muzzled.  He did neither of this things, with tragic consequences to this little girl.

Most dog bite suits in Illinois are prosecuted under the Animal Control Act because to pursue a common law negligence case against the owner of the dog, you have to evidence of prior aggressive behavior by the dog.  This is sometimes referred to colloquially as the "one bite rule," as in you need to show that the dog bite someone else before, although that is not a literal requirement -- you just need prior aggressive behavior by the animal.  In the Chicago area, most dogs are put down after biting someone, so there are few cases where there is a second dog bite.

I generally prefer to pursue dog bite suits under the Animal Control Act because the issue of contributory negligence is irrelevant in cases under the Animal Control, where it is a possible defense in a common law negligence case.  However, where the victim is 7 or under, the law presumes that the child cannot be guilty of contributory negligence, so as an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer, I would not be afraid to prosecute this case as a common law negligence case because the little girl cannot be blamed for the accident.

I hope that the parents are able to handle the settlement for this injured child.  However, before that, I hope that there is insurance coverage for this dog bite because many insurance companies are restricting insurance coverage for dog bites caused by German shepherds.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

10/6/2009
Barry Doyle
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A Denver area woman is in the hospital after being attacked by two pit bull mixes owned by a neighbor.  The dogs got out of the yard through a hole in the fence and attacked the woman as she went to her car.  As a result of the dog bite attack, she suffered several dog bite wounds, a broken arm, and also suffered a heart attack due to the trauma.  She remains hospitalized in critical condition.

As an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer, I know that there are two groups which are disproportionately the victims of serious dog bite attacks: small children and senior citizens. 

Children are frequent victims of serious dog bite attacks for two reasons.  One is that due to inexperience and immaturity, they do not always recognize the danger that a particular dog may pose and not know to avoid the dog or the situation.  The other reason is that due to small size and lack of strength, they are not in a good position to get away from the attack, break off the attack, or resist an attacking dog.  As a result, they tend to suffer more serious injuries in dog bite attacks.

Senior citizens are the other group of people who tend to suffer serious injuries as a result of dog bite attacks.  The main reason that seniors tend to be seriously injured at a more frequent rate relates to their physical condition: they tend to be more physically debilitated and less able to avoid or resist an attacking dog.  Further, once they are attacked, they tend to suffer injuries besides the lacerations and puncture wounds that are commonly associated with dog bite injuries.  Fractures from falling or being knocked to the ground by a dog, or as here, stress-related heart attacks tend to exacerbate the consequences of a dog bite attack.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

9/20/2009
Barry Doyle
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Average dog bite claim costs insurers over $24,000

Article discussing average settlement value with dog bite claim with advice how to preserve evidence of dog bite injuries.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

9/13/2009
Barry Doyle
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I have written previously in my blog about the fact that some insurance companies will not write homeowner's coverage for for you if you own a dog of a certain breed or will exclude dog bites done by that breed of dog from coverage.  The reason that some insurance companies will exclude dog breeds from homeowner's coverage is that these breeds tend to have a higher incidence of biting and a higher average payout per settlement.  Not surprisingly, pit bulls, rottweilers, and other large dogs are on this list.

I saw a recent update on this practice in the news the other day, and thought it appropriate to remind readers of this blog that this occurs.  For dog owners, understanding whether your dog is covered or not is crucial because your homeowner's insurance is what will cover you in the event that there is a dog bite attack by your dog.

If you have any uncertainty as to whether you and your dog are covered, you should discuss the matter with your agent.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

9/9/2009
Barry Doyle
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In Texas, neighbors are angry at local animal control authorities in Killeen after a 9 year girl was the victim of a pit bull attack.  They claim that they had called multiple times about two pit bulls which had been menacing people from the neighborhood even though they were tied up in a fenced yard.  For their part authorities claim that they were out to the home three times and did not see evidence that the dogs were vicious.  The attack happened when one of the pit bulls got loose and out of the yard and severely injured the girl by biting her.

Chicago has a notably strict dangerous dog ordinance.  It has several definitions of what a dangerous dog is.  One them includes a dog that on more than one occasion without provocation menaces a person outside of the owners property or on the public way.  That would include barking aggressively, lunging, growling, and leaping at people on the sidewalk.

Once a dog is declared dangerous by animal control, the owners must comply with a number of requirements, including neutering the dog (which tends to reduce aggressiveness), buying liability insurance, muzzling and leashing the dog off property, dog training classes, and building a pen for the dog on the property.

If you have concerns about a dog in the neighborhood that you think would be a hazard to children or senior citizens in the neighborhood, you should contact Animal Control to see whether the dog should be declared dangerous or not.



Category: Dog Bite Attacks

9/4/2009
Barry Doyle
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A Rantoul woman is recovering after suffering a fractured hip after being knocked over during an attack by a pit bull.  The dog has been taken by authorities, and although the dog lived in the woman's neighborhood, no one is claiming ownership of the dog.

One strange feature of Illinois' "dog bite statute" is that it does not require that the dog actually bite the victim for the victim to recover compensation for his or her injuries.  The "dog bite statute" is formally known as the Animal Control Act, and all the it requires is that the victim be injured in an "attack" by the animal (which does not even have to be a dog) which can include jumping up on someone and knocking them to the ground.  Our office has successfully prosecuted a number of cases like that.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/30/2009
Barry Doyle
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A settlement in a dog bite attack lawsuit in Michigan was settled recently for the sum of $115,000.  The settlement was reached on behalf of a girl who was attacked by a neighbor's dog in 2006.  The dog bit the girl several times, causing numerous puncture wounds.

As an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer, there are a few points I would like to make about this news story:

  • The case was settled last week even though it took place in 2006.  Cases can take that long to resolve, even when the liability for the dog bite is clear.  At a minimum, I advise my clients to not even think about trying to settle a case until the dog bite would has healed substantially which may take a year or more.  Until the healing is largely complete, we do not know what kind of residual scarring the dog bite victim will have, and the permanent disfigurement resulting from the dog bite is an important issue when trying to arrive at a fair settlement figure.
  • The settlement in this case was paid by the homeowner's insurance for the owner of the dog.  Once a claim is turned over the insurance company, they get to make all of the decisions about whether a settlement offer will be made, and if so, for how much.


Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/11/2009
Barry Doyle
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A mail carrier in Miami was injured in a pit bull attack as she delivered mail to the dog's home.  She was severely injured in  the dog bite attack, and may lose a finger as a result of the injuries she sustained in the attack.

As a federal employee, she is eligible to pursue a claim for worker's compensation benefits under the Federal Employee's Compensation Act.  However, because the statute is designed to favor the government and to deter attorney involvement, our firm would not be able to assist her in the pursuit of benefits.

However, one avenue to compensate this woman for her injuries would be a third party dog bite liability suit against the dog's owners.  This would allow her to recover a fuller range of compensation than she will ever receive from the Post Office.  This is a service that our firm offers to injured postal employees.

One interesting item in reviewing this news story was the tips for preventing dog bites offered by the U.S. Post Office.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks

8/2/2009
Barry Doyle
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The Chicago Tribune ran an article in today's magazine section with tips for victims of Chicago dog bite attacks.  It is a pretty good primer for what to do is you or a child is bitten by a dog.

As an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer who has handled several dog bite cases, I would emphasize the importance of two points:

  • The wound must be cleaned carefully to prevent infection; and
  • Animal control should be contacted, even if you know the dog or dog owner.  Not only does this help you get valid information regarding the rabies status of the dog, but the investigation will help develop information that may be useful in a later civil lawsuit.


Category: Dog Bite Attacks

7/31/2009
Barry Doyle
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Authorities near Pittsburgh are looking for a black cat that bit a 7 year old boy at least three times, requiring the boy to receive stitches to his lip and his ear and a staple in his scalp.  If the cat is not located, he will also have to get rabies injections.

While cats are not normally thought of as being as dangerous as dogs, cat bites are a serious medical issue.  Cat bites tend to penetrate deeply and can result in serious infections that may require hospitalization and IV antibiotics.

Victims of a cat bite do have a remedy against the owner of a cat that attacks them under the Animal Control Act.  That statute is customarily referred to as the Illinois dog bite statute, which is a shorthand that is not very accurate, because it actually applies to all kinds of animals, and has been used in cases involving livestock such as horses, cows, and pigs.  There is no reason that it would not also apply to cats.

Category: Dog Bite Attacks