Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Case Settled for Bicyclist Attacked by Charging Dog

Any time a bicyclist is knocked of their bicycle, there is a high risk for an injury. And not all bicycle accidents involve a motor vehicle. This was the case for a bicyclist in western Illinois who sustained a hip fracture after a dog left its owners property and charged the bicyclist as he was riding down a rural road on his way home from work. 

On March 23, 2012, the bicyclist was riding along his regular route when he noticed a large dog running directly at him. Despite the bicyclist's best efforts to avoid a collision, the dog ran directly into the bike. The impact between the dog and the bicycle caused the bicyclist to be thrown from his bicycle to the pavement.
As a result of the bicycle collision, the bicyclist sustained a displaced left hip fracture requiring a stay in a local hospital followed by a rigorous rehabilitation regimen. It was more than seven  weeks after the bicycle collision before the bicyclist was able to ambulate without a wheelchair or cane.

Illinois has a strict liability statute (known as the "Illinois Animal Control Act") regarding injuries caused by animals, including dogs. A "strict liability" statute imposes liability without fault--that is, an injured person does not have to necessarily prove that the dog owner did anything wrong in order to recover for their injuries and medical bills. Specifically, the Illinois Animal Control Act provides:

"If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby."
In this case the bicyclist was lawfully riding his bicycle on a local street and did not provoke the dog. Thus, the owners of this dog were "strictly liable" for the injuries and damages sustained by the bicyclist - meaning the dog owners were legally responsible for the damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) sustained by the bicyclist whether or not the dog owners  themselves did anything wrong. (510 ILCS 5/16). The purpose of this statute is to motivate animal owners to take whatever steps are necessary to keep their animal from injuring a person. A second purpose is to ensure that an injured person has a way to be "made whole" for their injuries since you obviously can't have a case against an animal.
Following the collision, the bicyclist initially attempted to negotiate the claim directly with the insurance company without an attorney. The insurance company then made a typical "lowball" settlement offer of that barely exceeded the bicyclist's medical bills. The bicyclist then retained the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices. The ultimate settlement of $150,000.00 reached by the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers exceeded the original offer by more than $100,000.00.

The resolution is yet another example of the importance and value of retaining an attorney when you or a family member sustains a personal injury. The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers work on a completely contingent basis - meaning we NEVER charge attorney's fees unless we settle or win your case. All consultations are confidential and free with absolutely no obligation.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere law firm handling bicycle-related cases in Illinois. The firm is committed to the representation of bicyclists throughout the entire state of Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly.