California leads the country in dog bite claims

Dog bites happen all too often in California and can cause serious, lifelong consequences for those involved.

In May of this year, the Los Angeles Times published an article noting that L.A. sits atop the list of U.S. cities in which dogs attack postal workers are the most frequent. In 2014, Los Angeles saw 74 such incidents. In light of the uptick in dog bites, the U.S. Postal Service is planning on having its workers trained in what to do in the event a dog attacks.

Unfortunately, California leads the country in dog bite claims, not only on postal workers, but on the general population as well. It is imperative that residents know what to do to prevent an attack.

By the numbers

In 2014, California had the highest number of dog bite claims in the country. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the state saw 1,867 dog bite claims costing roughly $62.8 million.

Nationwide, more than one-third of all homeowners' insurance policy liability claims involved dog-related injuries. The incidents racked up more than $530 million in costs, with the average cost per claim coming in at $32,072 - and that's just what an insurance policy will cover.

Insurance vs. lawsuit

A homeowners' insurance policy will often cover the cost of the liability of a dog bite. For example, when a dog bites someone, the insurance policy should cover the cost of the medical treatment necessary. However, there are many circumstances in which a policy may not cover someone's damages, such as in the following cases:

  • Many policies will only cover the first incident of a dog bite.
  • Some policies will not cover certain breeds of dogs.
  • Policies may reduce the amount of coverage available if the incident happened off the homeowner's property.

Fortunately, California enables dog bite victims or their family members to bring a lawsuit against the owner of the animal. Under the law, these suits must be filed within two years of the date of the injury. A dog bite lawsuit can cover all medical expenses as well as damages such as missed wages and emotional pain and suffering.

Preventing a bite

Dog owners have a responsibility to prevent a bite from occurring. Keeping a dog on a leash while in public and properly fenced in to a yard can greatly reduce the odds that an attack will occur. California has a set of laws that defines what a potentially dangerous dog or vicious dog is. When a dog is labeled as such, is must be properly enclosed or the owner could face legal consequences.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also offers bite prevention advice to residents. For example, no one should ever approach an unfamiliar dog or one that is acting aggressively. Interrupting a dog while it is eating or with puppies can also present a dangerous situation.

No matter the circumstances that led to a bite, victims should be aware of their options for recovering compensation. Anyone who has suffered a dog attack should consult with an attorney.