Beware of Dog Bite Laws in Iowa and Illinois

Illinois and Iowa Dog Bite Laws

While historically known as man’s best friend, we must be aware that dogs can have a dangerous side, too. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1/3rd of U.S. households own a dog, meaning the risk exists everywhere.

But what happens when Lassie lashes or Spot scratches?

The laws can vary depending on which state you live in.

Who Is At Fault For A Dog Bite?

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 of these dog bite encounters can require medical attention.  But the injury from the bite itself isn’t the only complication.

Some dogs carry viruses and bacteria that can be dangerous and can complicate a simple bite or even become fatal to humans.

Many states follow a legal doctrine called “strict liability” when it comes to dog bites.

This favors the victim because, in the case of a bite, the owner of the dog is liable for all injuries to the victim whether or not the dog has a history of biting and often regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong in controlling or restraining the dog.

Illinois and Iowa Dog Bite Laws

Illinois and Iowa, each in their own way, have exceptions to the “strict liability” rule which shifts some responsibility to the dog bite victim.


In Illinois, the dog owner may not be responsible for a dog bit if the owner can show that the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing on the owner’s property.

The victim would have to show that he or she was lawfully in the area where the bite occurred and did nothing to provoke the animal.


According to Iowa dog bite law from IA Code § 351.28, there is less concern about whether the victim provoked the dog.

Instead, the victim would have to show that he or she was not doing anything illegal that contributed to causing the bite such as trespassing on the owner’s property.

Even in the case of trespass, if the dog owner had something on its property that the owner should know would entice a person to enter (such as a child being attracted to a swing set or other playground equipment) and the dog bites that person, the owner may still be liable.

Iowa Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

Something that attracts a child or other person to enter someone’s property is called an “attractive nuisance”.

In fact, a dangerous dog itself may be found to be an attractive nuisance if there was no warning or if the dog was not properly restrained!

These laws apply to more than just bites. Any kind of damage that results from a dog attack can be recovered.

This can include scratches, mauling, or even being injured by tripping on or being entangled in a leash as a result of an altercation with a dog.

The Time Limit to File Your Case

Both Iowa and Illinois hold personal injury laws that state that a person has 2 years from the date of incident to file a case against someone.

If it has been longer than 2 years since you were bitten by the dog that caused the injury you want to file for, it is likely that the case will be thrown out.

This statute of limitation is strictly followed in both states, but sometimes exceptions may apply.

Lawyers Are Here To Help With Your Case

If you or a loved one are the unfortunate victims of a dog bite or other injury, contact VanDerGinst Law today.

We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.

The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win.

Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391.

The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.

The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.

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