Most dog owners realize that he or she can assume serious financial liability if their dog bites someone. Dog bite litigation can be expensive, and with medical costs constantly rising, dog bite insurance settlements, for those who have insurance, can be costly. Dog bites account for about one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims annually, costing nearly $500 million according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The increases can be attributed to increased costs for medical treatment, as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs. An extremely large judgment could have quite a devastating effect. Any person found liable could literally lose their home, which is why homeowners insurance without protection for dog owners just doesn’t make sense.
Young children often victims of dog bite injuries
Dogs bite more than 4.7 million people in the US annually, and nearly 900,000 of those require medical care. Sadly, nearly half of the victims are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and of those injured, over 390,000 require treatment in an emergency room.
The rate of injuries caused by dogs is highest for children aged five to nine years old, with most attacks occurring to the head or neck area, and statistics show that injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls, boys being more aggressive around dogs.
Dog owner liability fits into three categories
The three kinds of laws that impose liability on owners are 1) dog-bite statute, wherein the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation. 2) Negligence laws state the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because he or she was unreasonably careless in controlling the dog, and 3) the “one-bite” rule, which applies only in some states, says that the owner is not held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, such as biting or otherwise displaying a ‘vicious propensity’, the owner can then be held liable.
With liability issues a serious concern for owners and victims alike, and with all that might be at stake, dog owners need to purchase this vital insurance to deal with any dog bite settlements and claims resulting from their dog’s behavior.