Dog bites and insurance claims

The Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites affect about 4.5 million Americans every year, with associated injuries ranging in severity from relatively minor to quite serious and even deadly. It is a problem that may be of particular concern for Pennsylvania residents, as the state ranked fourth in the nation for the number of dog bite-related insurance claims filed in 2015.

Dog bites and children

Many dog bite victims are children, which is likely due in part to the fact that kids, and particularly younger ones, may be more likely to approach an unfamiliar dog than adults. They, too, may be more likely to approach a dog aggressively and without allowing it to smell them first, which can cause anxiety in dogs and lead to biting. Dogs are, by nature, unpredictable, so it is wise to teach your children how to stay safe around dogs to help avoid bites and associated hardships down the line.

Who pays dog bite claims

In many cases, your dog bite claim may be covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. There are some exceptions, however. Many insurance companies refuse to cover certain breeds, such as Rottweilers or pit bulls. Additionally, some companies will only cover the first time a dog bites someone and will refuse any subsequent claims involving the same animal. It is also important to check your policy to find out if it only covers bites on the property. Some policies will not cover bites that happen on the street or in a vehicle, for example.

How much companies typically pay in claims

Recent statistics show that while the number of actual dog bite claims filed in America has gone down, the average cost of each claim has increased considerably. In 2015, the average amount paid per claim was $37,214, which is a 16 percent increase over the year prior. Furthermore, the average cost per dog bite claim has skyrocketed almost 95 percent between the years of 2003 and 2015. This is likely due in part to the growth of jury awards and judgments, and in part to the rising costs associated with obtaining medical care in the country.

When you suffer a dog bite, the amount you may receive will vary based on factors such as the severity of your injuries, the amount of care you may need and the circumstances under which the bite occurred. For more about your options as a victim of a dog bite, consider contacting an attorney.