On March 21, 2022, the Insurance Information Institute (III) published a report on dog bite liability with new facts and statistics on the average cost of dog bite claims between 2003 and 2020.
The takeaway: the median cost of a dog bite lawsuit or insurance claim is 162% higher than it was in 2003. This staggering increase needs to be examined, since the total number of claims per year isn’t really increasing. Here’s what to know about dog bite claims and how to get help from an experienced New Hampshire and Massachusetts dog bite attorney.
Dog Bite Claims Statistics In 2020
- The American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2021-2022 Pet Owners Survey estimates that 69 million households currently have at least one dog.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) estimates that there are approximately 85 million individual dogs currently within these households.
- 5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. The overwhelming majority of these victims are children.
- Homeowners’ insurance companies paid out a total of $854 million to survivors of dog attacks and their families in 2020 alone.
- In just one year, from 2019 to 2020, the average cost per dog bite claim increased by over 12%.
Homeowners’ Insurance Liability for Dog Bite Injuries
Some insurers refuse to cover homeowners who keep hazardous dog breeds, like pit bulls. Other insurance companies make decisions based on whether a particular dog, regardless of its breed, has been labeled vicious or displays aggressive behavior. When underwriting a new homeowners insurance policy or updating an existing one, some insurers do not inquire about the breed of a dog owned, and they do not keep track of the breeds of dogs involved in dog bite claims that their company settles. If a dog bites someone, an insurer has the right to increase the policy holder’s rate and potentially refuse to extend coverage to the dog or even deny the policyholder altogether.
Some insurance providers are taking precautions to reduce their risk of losses related to dog bite claims. Some insurers make dog owners agree to waive liability in the event of a dog attack, while other companies charge an extra fee for owners of breeds like Rottweilers and pit bulls. Still other insurance companies refuse to cover dog attacks at all. Some insurance companies may only cover the animal if the owner enrolls them in behavior modification or training programs, or if the dog is restricted by a chain, muzzle, or kennel.
How COVID-19 Impacted Dog Bite Claims In the U.S.
Although more households adopted dogs during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the total number of dog bite claims filed in 2020 decreased by nearly 5%. As many as 21% of American households reported adopting a dog in 2020, and it’s possible that the decrease in dog attack claims could be due to owners being at home during lockdowns and able to provide their pup with the training and enrichment it needs to prevent attacks.
Average Cost of Dog Bite Claims Between 2003-2020
Increases in the average cost per dog bite claim between 2003 and 2020, and even 2019 to 2020 can be attributed to a number of different things. First and foremost, the rising cost of medical care often necessitates settlements in the range of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The size of dog bite settlements is trending upwards, due to more judges and juries being willing to award punitive damages in cases of wanton negligence.
Injured By a Vicious Dog? Get Help From Mazow | McCullough, PC Today
If you were attacked by a vicious dog and sustained injuries as a result, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for the damages you incurred. This includes but isn’t limited to reimbursement for emergency hospitalization, surgical repair, medications, physical and rehabilitative therapy, and cosmetic surgery later on. If someone dies as a result of a dog attack, their family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit forward to pursue compensation for funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and loss of future wages.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we understand how challenging navigating the aftermath of a dog attack can be. We’re committed to offering our clients comprehensive legal assistance so they can focus on healing and recovering from the incident.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling our Salem, MA office at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084. Serving dog attack victims and their families across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.