The Growing Hazard of Injuries and Deaths from Dog Bites
Each day, about 1,000 people in the US require emergency care treatment for a dog bite injury, according to DogsBite.org. The dog breeds most likely to bite include pit bulls, rottweilers, mastiffs, shar peis, boxers and their mixes.
The number of dog bites as well as their severity has risen dramatically since the 1980s. The yearly average of fatal dog attacks in the USA was 17 in the 1990s, but in the past 6 years, the average has been 31.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.
- Almost one in five of those who are bitten require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries; half of these are children.
- More than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs in 2012.
Who is at risk?
- Children: Among children, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.
- Adult Males: Male adults are more likely than female adults to be bitten.
- People with dogs in their homes: As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.
Dog attack victims in the US suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses every year. That $1 billion estimate might be low -- the American Medical Association reported that in 1995 State Farm paid $70 million on 11,000 claims and estimated that the total annual insurance cost for dog bites was about $2 billion.
Those who are involved in accidents involving dog bites often secure substantial recoveries as a result of their injuries. For example:
- A woman who was house sitting in Santa Ana, CA, tried to break up a fight between two dogs in the backyard. One of the dogs bit and severely injured her finger. She was awarded $100,000.
- A five-year old California boy was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull while the neighbors were babysitting him. Part of his cheek was torn off in the attack. He was awarded $1,124,093.
- A young woman was with friends in the desert of Ocotillo Wells, CA, when she was bitten in the face by a vicious dog. The owner was traced and the insurance company paid out $150,000.
- Several states have “strict liability” laws in place regarding animal attacks and bites. These laws dictate that the owner of a dog that attacks and causes injury is legally accountable -- regardless what he or she may have done to prevent the attack. The challenge is in determining whether the owner was aware of the animal’s propensity to attack and maim.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a dog attack, please use our directory to find a lawyer near you who can assist you.