While we don’t want to imagine what a dog bite would feel like, cost, the damage, etc., we have to acknowledge the fact that they do happen. Even if an owner states their dog has never bitten someone does not mean that they can’t. American Heritage Insurance Group, based in Southwest Ohio, wants our customers and visitors to be aware of the implications surrounding dog bites.
Dog Bite Awareness
A recent study completed by the American Pet Products Association found that 77.8 million dogs were owned as pets in just the United States. That’s a huge number! How many of these dogs end up biting someone?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention averages that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of the 4.5 million, nearly 885,000 require medical attention and half of them are children.
A recent article from Insurance Journal states in 2014, Ohio had 1,009 reported dog bite claims. The cost averaged $21,983. In 2014, the total cost of dog bite claims was $22.2 million dollars!
The Insurance Journal also states that from 2003 – 2014, dog bite claim costs have risen by 67.4% per claim. The Insurance Information Institute also supports more evidence on rising costs per claim from 2014 – 2015. There was a 7.2% decrease in the number of claims but, a 16% rise in the average cost per claim.
Dog Bite Prevention
Simply preventing a dog bite is the best way to avoid paying hefty insurance fees and legal fees as well. Many times the dog is also forced to be put to sleep. To save yourself from heartbreak and financial woes, do your best to prevent dog bites. You can also practice these tips around other dogs.
Prevention Tips for Dog Bites from ASPCA
- If a dog is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for its puppies, do not approach it. If you do, you risk catching the dog off guard or making it feel threatened.
- If a dog is barking, growling, or appears frightened, do not approach it.
- Always ask permission to pet a dog that is not yours.
- Do not attempt petting a dog that is on a leash, in a car, behind a fence or in a cage.
- If you see a leashless dog, try to find the owner. Do not panic if the dog comes toward you. Don’t make eye contact, stand still, and once the dog moves one, back away.
- Teach yourself and children to curl into a ball if a dog begins attacking. This can help protect the stomach, neck, and ears of a child.
- Do not try to outrun a dog.
Prevention Tips for Dog Owners from ASPCA
- Adoption is a way most families come into ownership of a dog. Make sure it is a trusted agency that showcases care for the animals. Work with the dog before adoption to see if there might be any issues with aggression or territory.
- If a dog is not spayed/neutered, this is one of the first things you should do. It will help calm their hormones and make them less likely to attack due to territory and aggression.
- Socialize with your dog daily. It can showcase friendship and make a dog feel comfortable around other people and places.
- Use a dog training class that has a great reputation to help your dog become obedient.
- Don’t forget, a dog is a family member! Don’t exclude the dog from daily activities the family participates in.
- If you notice that your dog has developed an aggression, see help. There are animal behaviorists that specialize in helping dogs overcome aggression issues.
- Note these common aggression triggers: pain, injury, illness, strangers (including other dogs), unrecognizable people (uniform, costume, hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, and loud noises.
- Never leave children and your dog unsupervised.
- Be a great pet owner by licensing your dog, having regular vet visits and don’t let them roam alone.
Dog Bite Liability Insurance
Just in case, you want to make sure you and your family is protected in the event that your dog does bite someone. As shown above, the costs can be astronomical and if you lack coverage in your policy that would be out of pocket expenses.
The Insurance Information Institute states that there are 3 kinds of laws that would hold you responsible in the event of a dog bite. See below:
- Dog-Bite Statute: the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
- One-Bite Rule: the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury – the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
- Negligence: the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the owner was careless in controlling the dog.
How to Limit Your Exposure
If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, you should be covered for dog bite legal expenses, up to liability limits (normally $100,000 – $300,000). If the costs are above the limit, you would be held responsible for covering them. If you are unsure of what your policy covers, or if you would like to discuss your policy options, call American Heritage Insurance Group at 513.984.5255 or drop by one of our offices located in Cincinnati, Milford, and Springfield Ohio.