4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs each year

| Aug 9, 2020 | Premises Liability |

Some people suffer only a minor scratch after a dog attacks them. Many others die at the scene or later succumb to the injuries suffered. Dogs do, indeed, serve as man’s best friend, when it suits them, but they can also be violent and dangerous. Any dog is capable of injuring someone else, no matter how small. After all, even the small dog of an irresponsible owner might pass on rabies, for which there is no cure.

One article published by the Washington Post estimates that people report 4.5 million bite incidents, each year. What is most frightening when reviewing statistics is children make up more than half the victim pool. Because children are smaller and less able to defend themselves, they often also suffer more severe injuries than adults.

Protecting children

The burden of protecting children and adults from dog bites should rest with dog owners. However, bites happen anyway, so parents might also consider preparing children for what to do to avoid attacks and how to react if one occurs. Unfortunately, many harmless and playful behaviors children exhibit can rub dogs in the wrong way:

  • Moving toward the dog unexpectedly for a hug or kiss
  • Tugging on the dog’s ear or tail
  • Running up to unfamiliar dogs to pet them

Liabilities for owners

Some jurisdictions have stricter rules than others when it comes to dog bites. However, in any jurisdiction, the owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy usually pays the bill when a victim sues. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that, in 2019 alone, the total liability payments for dog-related incidents reached $797 million.

In some New York jurisdictions, victims might also pursue criminal charges if the owner committed an offense that led to the attack. One such offense might include owning a dog breed restricted in a particular area.