Many of us love dogs. Indeed, according to information released by The Humane Society, more than 43 million American households own at least one dog. And while the old saying, “a dog is a man’s best friend” may ring true in most instances, dog bites and attacks are common occurrences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that dogs bite approximately 4.5 million Americans each year. The injuries can be serious, even life-threatening. At least one in five dog bites becomes infected. Half of all dog attacks involve children under the age of eleven.
Dog Bites and Attacks Are Expensive for the Insurance Industry
According to information released by the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites account for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars paid out each year, costing more than $483 million. During 2013, the last year for which complete statistics are available, New York experienced the second largest number of dog bite insurance claims in the United States. Only California has more. Moreover, the average cost of a claim in New York State was $43,122, significantly higher than the national average of $27,862.
Recent Studies Identify a Number of Factual Patterns in Dog Attacks
Recent studies suggest that most dog attacks are associated with common factors:
- No able-bodied person being present to intervene (87.1%)
- The victim having no family relationship with the dog(s) (85.2%)
- The dog(s) owner failing to neuter/spay the dog(s) (84.4%)
- A victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog(s) (77.4%)
- The owner keeping dog(s) as resident dog(s), rather than as family pet(s) (76.2%)
Family Dogs Rarely Are Involved in Attacks
The distinction between a “resident” dog and a “family” dog is an interesting phenomenon in dog bite and attack incidents. More than three-quarters of attacks are associated with dogs that are not kept as family pets. Dog experts have long recognized that dogs are predisposed to form attachments with people, to become dependent on people, and to rely upon their guidance in unfamiliar situations. Dogs kept as pets, therefore, tend not to lash out as aggressively as dogs that merely reside on property. Such “resident” dogs that are not afforded the opportunity for regular, positive interaction with people appear to be more likely to attack.
The Breed of Dog is Not Generally a Factor in Dog Attacks
One of the most surprising findings has been that the breed is not a strong determining factor in whether a dog tends to attack humans. As noted above, dogs kept as pets in a loving environment are usually not involved in bite attacks, no matter what the breed. For dogs that are ignored or abused, the story is unfortunately quite different.
Education and Enforcement of Dangerous Dog/Reckless Owner Ordinances is Key
Veterinarians advise that several practices are key to preventing dog attacks:
- Improved ownership and husbandry practices,
- Better understanding of dog behavior,
- Education of parents and children regarding safety around dogs, and
- Consistent enforcement of dangerous dog/reckless owner ordinances in communities.
An Experienced, Aggressive Attorney is Key to Recovery in Dog Bite Cases
The key to recovery in a dog bite case is to retain the assistance of a strong, aggressive, respected attorney. The insurance industry is interested in minimizing the value of your claim, not in helping you recover your medical bills and personal injury damages. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Law Firm has the experience and resources to help. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a dog bite or dog attack in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Washington, Columbia, Fulton or a surrounding Upstate NY County, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. With offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and Latham, we have been representing clients for more than 100 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Law Firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.