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Average insurance payout per dog bite claim almost $28,000

The Insurance Information Institute recently released some statistics that Worcester residents may find surprising. What type of incidents account for one-third of all homeowners' liability claims? The answer: dog bites.

More than 17,000 dog-bite claims were filed throughout the country last year, the most in 10 years and an increase of more than five percent since the previous year. While some may chuckle at the stereotype of the dog going after the mailman, for the almost 5,600 postal workers attacked last year, a dog attack is no laughing matter. In fact some 4.5 million people experience a dog bite attack every year in this county, with one in five resulting in a serious injury requiring medical care.

Insurers are trying to join forces with health officials and dog training experts to educate more people about dog safety and, one hopes, improve these alarming statistics. For insurers, of course, there is a financial angle as well: the average dog bite claim in the U.S. leads to an insurance payout of just under $28,000. In some states the average is much higher.

As anyone who has been the victim of a dog bite can attest, compensation like that is sorely needed given the pain and suffering they typically experience. In addition to scarring, disfigurement and other physical injuries, dog attacks can inflict emotional pain on victims as well. If any pet owner fails to control an animal and take the safety of others into consideration, that individual may face liability for a victim's injuries.

Insurance companies, however, may try to deny a claim at first, or try to offer a settlement that is less than what the victim needs and deserves. Dog bite victims may therefore wish to review their legal options with a professional before deciding how to proceed.

Source: Bloomberg, "Dog-Bite Claims Set Record as N.Y. has Costliest Attacks," Craig Giammona, May 14, 2014

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