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Bagen Law Blog

Dog Bites and Homeowners Insurance

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Jul 14, 2012 5:29:00 AM

The majority of dog bites that occur around the United States are negotiated between the dog owner, their insurance company and the victim. About 5 million U.S. citizens are bitten annually, but only 16,000 claims are payouts from insurance companies.

The Costs of a Dog Bite
On an average, the cost of medical treatments has increased, but the treatment for dog bites has become exponential. Dog bite victims are no longer seeking treatment from general surgeons, but are going to plastic surgeons. As a result, insurance companies are paying out larger settlements in dog bite cases. These payments are notably cutting into the profits of insurance companies. If a homeowner is known to have dogs, then they are required to sign liability waivers for dog bites. If an owner's dog bites someone and they are off a leash, their premiums will increase or the insurance company can exclude their dog from coverage. As a result, many companies are considering not covering dog bites at all or only covering certain breeds.

At present, one third of homeowners liability insurance claims are from dog bites. The Insurance Information Institute has reported that nearly $500 million was paid in 2011 in dog bite liability claims. This is a 35% increase in claims from 2010 and has risen 48 per cent since 2003. Eighteen states have passed laws that give dog owners a reprieve on a dog's first bite. But a majority of other states hold owners fully liable. The exception for these laws include dogs used in law enforcement activity or persons committing a crime who are bitten by guard dogs.

If you, or someone you love, has recently been bit by a dog, contact Steven A. Bagen & Associates today.

Topics: Personal Injury