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Can I Sue My Neighbor If Their Cat Attacked My Child?

 Posted on January 14, 2024 in Personal Injury

IL injury lawyerIt is normally dog bites that are the subject of conversation when it comes to personal injury lawsuits involving animal attacks. However, cats can be equally as terrifying and deal some serious damage should they attack an adult, let alone a minor child. So what can you do if a cat decides to sink its teeth or claws into one of your children? Well, that depends on the circumstances surrounding the attack.

When suffering any injuries due to the negligence of another person, it is a good idea to involve an attorney before attempting a lawsuit on your own. An attorney will be able to provide direction and advice regarding your lawsuit while gathering evidence of negligence on your behalf.

The “Dog Bite” Statute

In Illinois, there is no legal duty of care for pet owners to keep their cats indoors. This is in large part due to cats being naturally roaming creatures that will not often attack unless provoked. At one point in time, Illinois used the scienter rule, often referred to as the “one-bite” rule that allowed a pet to be exempt from liability if it was their first time attacking unprovoked.

However, the law was amended in 1973 when the Animal Control Act was introduced. Though it is often referred to as the “Dog Bite” Statute, it is relevant for all animals that are capable of contracting rabies. The statute states that any animal who attacks or injures a person unprovoked, peacefully conducting him or herself in a place they are legally allowed to be, then the owner will be liable for the full amount of civil damages. The statute also clarifies what an owner is in this regard.

Proving Owner Negligence

Though they may not have a duty of care to keep their cats indoors, owners do have a duty of care if they know their cat is capable of unprovoked attacks. As long as the plaintiff did not provoke the attack and was not trespassing on the owner’s property when the attack occurred, then the strict liability law applies, and the plaintiff will not need to prove the owner was negligent.

Proving that it was the owner’s cat who committed the attack may require evidence, however. Documented medical reports of previous attacks by the cat may be sufficient facts to use in a personal injury lawsuit. Additional evidence that can be useful is eyewitness testimony to the act in question or previous unprovoked attacks involving the cat.

Contact a Will County, IL Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 20 years of experience, a Joliet, IL animal attack injury attorney from McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC is more than capable of helping you obtain compensation in your lawsuit. Do not attempt to “hash it out” with the cat’s owner or their insurance company on your own. Call our office today for a free consultation at 815-727-0100 and let us do the fighting for you.

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