Dog bites can happen for many reasons. Sometimes the dog is playing and things get a little too rough. Sometimes the dog simply misunderstands someone’s actions or intentions. Sometimes dog bites happen because they have negligent owners. When dogs are neglected, mistreated, or improperly trained, they can lash out and become aggressive. Thus, when dog bites do happen, they can range from a nip to a deadly attack. The cost of dog bites from the nips on up to the vicious attacks can be extremely expensive.
Losses From Dog Bites
The losses or damages that result from dog bites include a variety of injury types. Some of these include:
- Broken digits and bones
- Medical expenses
- Severe lacerations, and
- finger, arm, toe, and leg degloving injury.
All of these losses may be claimed against the dog owner’s insurance when the evidence establishes that the owner was either negligent or that the dog had bitten someone else before.
The Cost of Fixing the Damage
Scar revision surgeries are a common way to deal with unsightly scars left behind as the result of a dog bite. These are particularly common when the scar is in a highly visible area like the face. In 2019 there were 28,384 reconstructive surgeries performed to repair the damage done by dog bites according to the Plastic Surgery Statistics Report of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons National Clearing House of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Statistics. That amounted to 16% of all plastic surgeries performed that year for any reason. We have seen the repair costs range from a few thousand dollars on upwards of $30,000 for a single scar. All of these costs must be factored in by lawyers who represent dog bite victims on behalf of their clients so that the dog owner’s insurance company can be held liable for the full extent of the damages.
The National Cost of Dog Bite Claims
According to an annual study performed by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, there were 17,802 claims made against homeowner’s insurance policies in 2019. It cost insurance companies $797 million dollars to settle those claims. That is an average cost of $44,760.00 per claim. California was the state with the most dog bite claims against insurance companies. Texas was not far behind. Unfortunately, Houston led the country in dog bites to postal workers in 2019 according to the U.S. Post Office’s annual report. This resulted in them naming Houston the “Dog Bite Capital of the World.”
Effect on Homeowner’s Insurance
The cost of dog bites has two effects on homeowner’s insurance. One is that many of them exclude injuries caused by dogs. This leaves the owner stuck paying the bills. The other effect is the same as living in a city where there are many car wrecks—the insurance rates go up for everyone.
Sadly, many of these incidents are easily preventable if the owners simply take better precautions to keep their dogs from getting loose.