Beebe and O'Neil

Dog bite injuries

Some pet owners in Connecticut might not be cognizant of the fact that, each year, some 4.5 million people suffer dog-bite injuries, with approximately 885,000 of them requiring medical care. Moreover, some owners might not be aware that if a person is injured by a dog bite, the animal's owner may be held liable for the incident.

In fact, a significant portion of all homeowners insurance liability claims involve dog-bite injuries. According to research conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, there were an estimated 17,359 dog-bite claims filed and paid out nationwide in 2013. Authorities estimated the total costs of those claims to exceed $483 million. The average amount paid out for each dog-bite case was $27,862, reportedly.

In general, the laws pertaining to dog bites and liability fall into one of three categories, according to authorities. A dog-bite statute may place liability on the owner of a dog for any unprovoked damage caused by that dog. With the one-bite rule, the burden of proof of liability falls on the bite victim to show that the dog's owner had prior knowledge that the dog was likely to bite. Negligent laws may hold a dog owner liable for a dog-bite injury if the owner was demonstrably careless or negligent toward preventing the injury.

Some insurance companies have taken preemptive measures against dog-bite injury cases. Authorities say that some insurance companies have stopped offering liability coverage to owners of certain dog breeds with a reputation for aggression, such as pit bulls. Other insurance companies have reportedly required owners of dogs to sign dog-bite liability waivers.

Nevertheless, people injured during a dog attack may still possess recourse through civil action. By retaining a personal injury attorney and filing a lawsuit, dog-bite victims may seek restitution for the damages they suffered.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, Inc., "Dog Bite Liability", November 23, 2014

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