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State Supreme Court Reverses Dismissal of Injury Case Filed Against Dog Owners

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In a recently released opinion, the Supreme Court of the State of Nebraska reversed a lower court's decision in favor of the defendant, regarding a personal injury case filed after the plaintiff was allegedly injured by falling on the sidewalk when the defendant's dog ran toward her through the defendant's yard. Since the dog never touched or bit the plaintiff, the lower court found that the plaintiff had no right to recovery. On appeal, the state supreme court found that a jury could find that the dog was the source of the plaintiff's injury, and the case should proceed toward trial. Based on the state supreme court ruling, the plaintiff may receive compensation for her injuries in the form of a settlement or jury verdict.

The Plaintiff Claims She Was Injured By The Dog, Although It Never Touched Her

According to the recently released opinion, the plaintiff in Grammer v. Lucking is a woman who was walking with her husband in her neighborhood, where the defendant and their dogs also reside. As the plaintiff and her husband approached the defendant's unfenced yard, a dog started barking and came running toward the plaintiff. Although the dog stopped short of attacking the plaintiff and did not physically make any contact with her, the plaintiff fell to the ground as the dog was approaching and suffered an injury. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming the dog chased her, which caused her injuries.

The Trial Court Dismisses the Case, But the State Supreme Court Disagrees

When the case was first heard, the defendant was successful in convincing the lower court to rule in his favor, arguing that it was not possible under the statute to find that the plaintiff's injuries were caused by the dog because the plaintiff was never touched by the animal. The defendant focused on the fact that the dog did not intend to catch or attack the plaintiff, so it could not be found that the dog chasing the plaintiff was the source of her injuries.

The plaintiff appealed the case to the Nebraska Supreme Court, and the decision was reversed. The high court found that language in the statute made dog owners responsible for injuries caused by a dog “chasing” another person. Although the court did not find it was certain that the plaintiff's injuries fell within this definition, it ruled that a reasonable jury should be able to interpret the facts as such and could find the defendant liable for the plaintiff's injuries. As a result of this ruling, the case will return to the lower court for further proceedings.

Illinois Dog Bite Liability Laws

The Illinois laws concerning liability for dog bites and animal attacks are similar to those in Nebraska, although the controlling statutes are written differently. Section 16 of the Illinois Animal Control Act outlines an owner's liability for dog bites and other animal attacks. Under this statutory language, it appears possible for a Illinois animal attack victim to recover damages from injuries suffered in an Illinois dog attack in which the animal never touched the plaintiff, although the courts will ultimately decide on each case. Victims should seek the advice of an experienced Illinois dog bite attorney to increase their chances of recovery after being injured.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a family member has been injured by a dog bite or other animal attack, the experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys at the Cavanagh Law Group have the skill and resources to seek all of the compensation that you deserve. At the Cavanagh Law Group, we represent clients nationwide in most personal injury and wrongful death cases, including dog bite cases.

When Winning Is the Only Option, Contact CLG

To speak to a professional and find out if you have grounds to file an injury lawsuit, call our firm at (844) 515-2223 or fill out the form below.

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