A recent report by the Insurance Information Institute stated that 1/3 of US homeowner insurance liability claims that were paid in 2007 were due to dog bites. This represented a cost of over $356 million! The average cost per claim was an astounding $24 511.
This is just one more piece of evidence indicating the importance of dog bite prevention. The $356 million cost is just insurance claims. Not all bites are associated with insurance claims but can still be associated with financial costs, in addition to the obvious pain and emotional costs. There were ~14 500 insurance claims in 2007, but it is estimated that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the US each year, with 800 000 people requiring medical care.
In the US, dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their pets in the following circumstances:
- if the owner knew the dog had a tendency to bite
- if a state statute makes the owner liable, whether or not the owner knew the dog had a tendency to bite
- if the injury was caused by carelessness on the part of the owner
I don’t know how or if similar regulations apply to other regions such as Canada, but it is logical to assume that these situations could be of concern for dog owners elsewhere.
It is important that everyone, pet owners and non-pet owners alike, know how to reduce the risk of being bitten by a dog. More information on bites can be found in the bites archives or in the dog information sheets in the Resources section.