As the summer months are rapidly approaching, people and their pets will spend more time outside, especially those who live and vacation in Cape Cod. And while most experiences with dogs are welcomed and enjoyable, there are certainly frightening experiences as well, with dogs who are not on a leash and/or exhibit the propensity to bite. Although national data indicates that the number of incidences of dog bite claims has remained relatively stable, the value of those claims has risen, accounting for more than one-third of all money paid out in homeowners’ liability claims. If you or someone you know has been injured in a dog bite incident, it is important to contact a local injury attorney with experience handling such cases.
This new trend is something that insurance companies are taking notice of. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of dog bite claims over the past 10 years has ranged from the low 14,000s to the high 16,000s, keeping in mind that the number of incidences actually decreased from 16,695 in 2011, to 16,459 in 2012. Over the same decade, however, the value of dog bite claims rose by 51%. Significantly, the average payout for a dog bite claim increased by 55%, from $19,162 in 2003, to $29,752 just last year.
Claims for dog bite injuries typically fall under the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Owning a dog that has a history of biting someone can actually increase the policy rates. In fact, it has been reported that certain homeowners have been refused insurance coverage because they own “high-risk” breeds of dogs, such as rottweilers and pit bulls. Further, while some states have banned this practice of “breed profiling,” many states permit an insurance company to cancel or deny coverage if a particular breed lives in the home. In a recent incident, a woman from Roslindale, outside of Boston, was bitten in the hand while attempting to break up a fight between two pit bulls.
According to a news report, the 52 year-old woman living in an apartment building was awakened one evening by growling sounds. She found two pit bulls – that also lived in the building – fighting outside. The dogs are five and 13 years old, respectively. After separating the dogs, the younger one bit her as she attempted to pull it inside. The woman called animal control officers, requesting that the dog that bit her be removed from the premises. She was taken to Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital for her injury and the officers took custody of the five year-old pit bull. It is unclear whether the she was the owner of either dog.
There is no real defense in Massachusetts when a dog bites someone. The dog’s owner is responsible. Even in cases where someone is injured in trying to escape a threatening dog, the owner can be held responsible for any injuries that occur. Dog bite injuries can cause life-long physical and psychological damage. If you have been the victim of a dog bite injury or are the owner of a dog who bit someone, contact our injury firm as soon as possible. We will be able to offer you dedicated and knowledgable assistance in all aspects of a dog bite case.