According to one study at the Insurance Information Institute, across the United States, there was an increase in dog bite injury claims from 2008 to 2009.  The number of claims increased to phenomenal 16,586 dog bite injury/accident claims in 2009.  There were about 6.4% more dog bite claims filed in 2009, than in the previous year, 2008.  In fact, 2009 was the third straight year in a row that there was an increase in such dog bite injury/accident claims.  It is a fact that injuries from dog bites cost insurers approximately $412 million in 2009, compared to just over $387 million in 2008.  A considerable difference; that was the fifth year in a row that there was an increase in insurance payouts for dog bite related injuries/claims.  The average dog bite injury claim in 2009 was valued at approximately $24,000.00.  In fact, dog bite injury claims now account for about one in three of every homeowner insurance liability claim in the United States.  The reason for this is because usually it is the homeowner insurance policy that pays out on any dog bite injury related claim because usually the dog owner has the dog live in the home, and the dog bite occurs as result of a trip or outing that derived from the home (this triggers the liability provision of the homeowner's insurance policy).

The reality that dog bite injury claims now account for a huge portion of homeowner’s liability insurance, is very worrying issue to all insurance companies.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, the reason why dog bite claims have increased over the past seven years is because there have been increased medical costs associated with the treatment of these injuries.  Usually medical care from a dog bite can be substantial, and lets not forget about the fact that some bites get infected, or they take a long time to heal; most of the times, there may be additional medical costs for scar revision surgeries too.  There have also been bigger settlements being paid out to victims of dog bites as a direct result in the increase of medical care.  The other reason why there has been a huge increase has much to do with the fact that more and more states now have enacted strict liability statutes for dog bite injuries.  Under California law, there is a strict liability statute for dog bites.  Strict liability laws allow victims of any dog bite to hold the dog owner liable for the injury, even if the owner had not been aware of the animal’s propensity to bite.  It is not necessary to prove the dog owner was "negligent" only that the dog bite occurred and caused a person injury.  Thankfully, an overwhelming majority of dog bite injuries however do not end in serious injuries. 

Every year, there are approximately 4.1 million dog bites in the United States; and, most dog bites involve minor injuries that may not require much more than a dressing on the wound.  However, serious attacks can leave patients physically and emotionally scarred; this is especially true of children and dog bites.  The emotional scarring can take longer to heal for a child than for an older person.  Sadly, severe physical damage from the dog bite is seen especially frequently in the case of children.  Children may be typically defenseless during a dog bite attack involving, say a pair of pit bulls or rottweilers; unlike an adult, who has some chance of defending himself or running away, children do not have the advantage of this defense.  Many children are also not educated about what to do when a dog attacks them, or even how to approach a dog they do not own.  They are also likely to require hospitalization for their injuries due to tissue damage and the like.  They may also be left with severe emotional trauma and stress from the attack which, as previously mentioned, may take longer for them to come to terms with, etc.  It is true that most dog bites occur when the child or the victim is on someone else’s property.  Many victims of a dog bite on a friend’s property are hesitant to come forward to file a claim, because it is a friend or close family member who is involved.  It is important to understand that it is not the friend who would be paying out the claim at all.  In fact, it is the insurance company that is responsible for paying the claim, and the medical damages (pain and suffering).

Mark C. Blane is a San Dog Bite Injury Attorney and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm dedicated to representing families of people injured with brain and head injuries, or spinal cord damage. If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in a head injury accident in California, due to the negligence of another, please order your free copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information that will help you protect your legal rights and it normally sells for $16.95.  However, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in an California accident.

 

 

Mark Blane
Founder of The Law Offices of Mark Blane, APC
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