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Dog Bites Are Real Injury Dangers in California

Steven R. Andrade Oct. 9, 2015

You might think that being bitten by a dog is a painful but relatively harmless learning experience that some children endure. But many dog bites and dog attacks cause serious personal injuries to people of all ages.

In fact, California led the nation in the number of insurance claims filed for compensation related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2014, according to the Insurance Information Institute(III).

This underscores an important fact about dog bites: you may seek compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering and other losses if you have been bitten by a dog ownedby another person.

The Institute says that insurance companies paid out more than $530 million for dog bite claims in 2014, more than one-third of all homeowners' insurance liability claim dollars paid out that year. Attorney Steven R. Andrade is ready to help if you have been injured in a dog attack. You shouldn't have to pay for medical bills if another person's dog bit or attacked you.

In California, dog owners have liability for injuries caused by their animals. If you have been bitten by someone else's dog, they must pay for the costs of your injuries, a payment usually made through their homeowners' insurance.

There were 1,867 insurance claims for dog attack injuries in California in 2014. The payments for dog bite injuries totaled $62.8 million at an average cost of $33,649, the Institute says. After California, Ohio had 1,009 dog bite claims worth $22.2 million at an average cost of $21,983.

Nationwide the average claim payout was $32,072. The claims covered dog bites as well as dogs knocking down children and the elderly, which can cause fractures and other blunt-force trauma injuries, the III explains.

Loretta Worters, vice president with the Institute, said that the average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.

While the Institute estimates that there were 16,550 dog bite claims across the U.S. in 2014, the American Veterinary Association (AVA) says about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and about 900,000 of them require medical attention for their injuries.

The discrepancy in these figures indicates that far too many dog bite victims are not being compensated through the dog owners' insurance after being injured. Further, the AVA says about 27,000 dog bite victims sustain serious enough injuries from dog attacks that they have to have reconstructive surgery, which is an expensive procedure that often requires multiple operations.

See a Doctor and Lawyer About a Dog Bite

Any dog can bite, particularly if it feels threatened or if it is bothered when it is ill or injured. Many people are bitten by their own dogs or other pets that they know well and feel perfectly safe around.

If a bite or scratch from a dog breaks the skin, you should:

  • Place a clean towel over the injury and apply pressure to stop any bleeding

  • Wash the bite carefully with soap and water

  • Apply a sterile bandage to the wound

  • Apply antibiotic ointment if it's available

  • Elevate the injured area.

In addition to potentially serious cuts and bruising, dog bites can cause infections. You should also see a doctor, especially if an unfamiliar dog bit you, the bite is deep, you can't stop the bleeding, or the wound develops redness, swelling, warmth or pus, which are signs of infection.

If you know the dog and its owner, you should contact the owner to ask about the status of the dog's vaccinations and report the information to your doctor. If you do not know the dog or it is a stray, and you can do so safely, you – or someone who has not been injured – should try to confine the animal, and police or the local animal control office should be contacted.

After obtaining medical care, you should contact a personal injury lawyer who handles dog bite cases. An attorney like Steven Andrade can help you pursue an insurance claim and ensure that it accounts for all of your losses due to the injury. The assistance of Andrade Law Offices can ensure your claim is processed as efficiently as possible and that your rights are fully protected.

Don't assume the financial burden that is the dog owner's responsibility after a dog attack in California. Let Andrade Law Offices help you obtain the insurance settlement you deserve.