Millions of people are bitten by dogs each year, and those who are most at risk include children and seniors. Not every dog bite leads to a lawsuit, but some bites can be serious, causing permanent injury and scars. In these situations, legal action may be required in order for the victim to get compensated for medical bills and other losses caused by the bite or attack.

Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover the situation where a dog of a homeowner bites someone who is visiting or on their property, meaning that the insurance company would be the one paying the victim. If there is such a policy in place, the victim likely will be dealing with the insurance company rather than the dog owner in a lawsuit. It’s recommended that dog bite victims hire an attorney to deal with and negotiate with the insurance company on their behalf.

In some states, a dog owner isn’t liable the first time their dog bites someone. It’s called the one-bite rule, with the idea being that the dog owner couldn’t have known to take precautions with their dog because they didn’t know the dog was dangerous. In Illinois, however, a dog owner doesn’t get a pass. They can be liable the first time their dog ever bites or injures someone.

Dog bite lawsuits are more prevalent now than in the past. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog and your family is facing medical bills, extensive recovery time, long-term treatment, scarring or disfigurement, or any other harm, talk to an attorney about holding the dog owner responsible. If you can prove fault, you should be able to collect money from the owner’s insurance company if not the owner themselves.

Written by Michael Helfand