In Illinois, a dog’s past behavior is not particularly relevant in most dog attack cases. The general rule in Illinois is that an owner of a dog is essentially strictly liable for the acts of their K9. Therefore, regardless of the animal’s history for peacefulness or aggressiveness, the owner may still be held legally responsible for the acts of their dog when they bite or attack another person.
Illinois has abandoned a ‘first bite free’ approach used in several other states. In states that incorporate a one bite free policy, the victim of a dog bite must establish that the dog had bitten another person and that the owner was aware of the dog’s behavior.
Obviously, since most people are unaware of a dog’s prior biting incidents, such ‘one bite’ laws make it difficult for an individual to determine the merits of their case without an in depth investigation as to the particular dog’s history. Further, given the difficulty in readily obtaining such information, one bite laws may actually encourage litigation in order for a bite victim to obtain such information from a dog owner.