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Dog Attacks

You Need To Know

Under Florida law, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. This means that negligence by the dog´s owner does not have to be proven. Florida Statute 767.01 provides, “owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person…” This statute makes dog owners the virtual insurers of their dogs´ conduct.

Dog attack victims in the US suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses every year. According to the Insurance Infor­mation Institute, dog bites cost insurers $345.5 million in 2002, $321.6 million in 2003, $317.2 million in 2005, and $351.4 in 2006. The number of claims paid by insurers was 20,800 in 2002, but fell to 15,000 in 2005. The insurance payment for the average dog bite claim was $16,600 in 2002, but rose to $21,200 in 2005. Liability claims accounted for approx­i­mately 4 percent of homeowner’s claims. Dog bite claims in 2005 accounted for about 15 percent of liability claims dollars paid under homeowner’s insurance policies. Over half of 50 the dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property.

Although dog owners are held to be strictly liable under the law, many homeowner insurance policies exclude coverage for dog bite claims. Toward that end, should a neighbor have a breed of dog which is known to have violent propen­sities and their dog or dogs are not being properly controlled, you may contact Animal Control and they will ensure that the dog or dogs are properly controlled, and in certain instances, properly insured.

Dog Bite Statistics and Inter­esting Facts

  • In the United States, there are almost 5 million victims annually — about 2% of the entire population. 800,000 need medical attention because of dog bites. 1,000 per day need treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Approx­i­mately 26 die per year. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million paid by insurance.
  • There currently are 74.8 million dogs in the USA.[1] A survey by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (“CDC”) concluded that dogs bite nearly 2% of the U.S. population — more than 4.7 million people annually.
  • An American has a one in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year. (CDC.) Almost 800,000 bites per year — one out of every 6 — are serious enough to require medical attention. Getting bitten by a dog is the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms caused by 9 activities common among children. [2]
  • Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day). Children seen in emergency departments were more likely than older persons to be bitten on the face, neck, and head. 77% of injuries to children under 10 years old are facial. Severe injuries occur almost exclu­sively in children less than 10 years of age. When a child less than 4 years old is the victim, the family dog was the attacker half the time (47%), and the attack almost always happened in the family home (90%). [3]
  • The vast majority of biting dogs (77%) belong to the victim’s family or a friend.
  • The majority of dog attacks (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place.
  • Children are the most frequent targets.
  • The median age of patients bitten was 15 years, with children, especially boys aged 5 to 9 years, having the highest incidence rate. The odds that a bite victim will be a child are 3.2 to 1. (CDC.)
  • Dog bites result in approx­i­mately 44,000 facial injuries in US hospitals each year. This represents between 0.5% and 1.5% of all emergency room visits The face is the most frequent target (77% of all injures). Mail carriers are an exception where 97% involve the lower extremities.
  • Every year 2,851 letter carriers are bitten. (US Postal Service.)
  • It should be noted that fatalities are highly unusual. For every fatal dog bite in the United States, there are 230,000 bites that are not treated by a physician. Animal People Magazine, did a study of dog bites from 1982 to the present. The study shows the number of serious canine-inflicted injuries by breed. According to the study, pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in the study, 68% of the attacks upon children, 82% of the attacks upon adults, 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings. [4]
  • Dog attack victims in the US suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses every year. According to the Insurance Infor­mation Institute, dog bites cost insurers $345.5 million in 2002, $321.6 million in 2003, $317.2 million in 2005, and $351.4 in 2006. The number of claims paid by insurers was 20,800 in 2002, but fell to 15,000 in 2005. The insurance payment for the average dog bite claim was $16,600 in 2002, but rose to $21,200 in 2005. Liability claims accounted for approx­i­mately 4 percent of homeowners claims. Dog bite claims in 2005 accounted for about 15 percent of liability claims dollars paid under homeowners insurance policies. Over half of 50 the bites occur on the dog owner’s property.[5]

[1] American Pet Products Manufac­turers Association (APPMA) 2007–2008 National Pet Owners Survey.[2] Weiss HB, Friedman DI, Coben JH. “Incidence of dog bite injuries treated in emergency departments,” JAMA 1998;279:53, citing US CPSC, “Injuries associated with selected sports and recre­ational equipment treated in hospital emergency departments, calendar year 1994.” CPSC Review, Summer 1996;1:5. Also citing US CPSC, “Stair Steps and Baby Walkers Don’t Mix.” Washington D.C.:US CPSC;1992. Consumer Product Safety Alert No. 009207.[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nonfatal Dog BiteBRelated Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments C United States, 2001, MMWR 2003;52:605–610. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is published by the CDC.[4] Clifton, Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to November 13, 2006.[5] Insurance Infor­mation Institute, Dog Bite Liability.