Dogs can be wonderful pets and great companions for kids and adults alike.
Unfortunately, dogs can also cause serious injuries if the animal is aggressive or not properly trained. Dog attacks can lead to lacerations, cuts, bruises, broken bones, amputations, scarring, disfigurement or even death.
Our Birmingham dog bite lawyers know that the number of bite incidents has remained relatively stable over the past decade. However, as Time Business and Money reports, the amount of money paid out by insurance companies as a result of dog bite incidents has increased significantly. Today, more than a third of all dollars paid out in homeowner’s liability insurance claims is paid to cover dog bite damages.
Protecting Kids from Dog Bite Injuries
In 2012, there were 16,459 dog bite claims as reported by the Insurance Information Institute. This is a decline from the 16,695 in 2011 and is even lower than the total number of claims in 2003, which was 16,919. The number of claims has generally ranged from the low 14,000s to the high 16,000s over the past decade, with the record low in 2005.
Unfortunately, this still means that there are thousands of victims of dog bites and attacks every single year. Further, while the number of bites has stayed relatively constant, the claim payouts have risen dramatically. In 2003, for example, there was a total of $324.2 million in damages paid out to bite victims. In 2012, the claims accounted for $489.7 million in insurance payouts even though there were fewer claims. The 51 percent increase in the value of dog bite claims that occurred over this decade far outpaces the rate of inflation.
Children, the elderly and postal employees are at the greatest risk of becoming bite victims, and it is very important that dog owners do everything possible to keep these vulnerable groups safe. This means dog owners need to ensure that their dogs are properly trained and properly secured on leashes or in a fenced-in area where they are not able to put kids or others at risk.
Dog owners should also be smart about choosing the breed of dog that they wish to have in their home, since some breeds are more aggressive than others. In fact, there are certain breeds of dogs that many insurance companies decline to even cover, including Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. These breeds are considered “high-risk,” because there may be higher rates of bite incidents or of serious injuries caused by bites.
On the other hand, there are also certain breeds that are known for being calmer or more laid-back that might be a better choice for households where children will be around. A recent Yahoo article, for example, suggested that some of the most easygoing and laid-back dog breeds include the bulldog; the pug; the French bulldog; the Pekingese; and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Choosing the right breed of dog and training that dog well is every owner’s responsibility in order to prevent a bite incident. Once a dog has bitten, the dog may be labeled a vicious animal, and insurance carriers will typically refuse to provide coverage or will raise premiums significantly. Homeowners could be at great risk of personal liability in these circumstances and kids and others in the neighborhood could be at serious risk of getting hurt.
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