Alabama Dog Bites Add Up to Millions in Claims Each Year

Dog BiteWhile dog bites may not grab headlines very often, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Animals still attack people, with the elderly and young children serving as primary victims of such attacks.

According to the CDC, every year there are roughly 4.7 million people who are bitten by dogs. Approximately 800,000 of those dog bites lead to a person seeking medical attention. Most shocking, about 16 people who are bitten by dogs also end up dying each year.

According to recent data, it appears that dog bites are on the rise. State Farm Insurance paid out a total of $109 million for around 3,800 dog bite claims in 2011. In 2010 the total payout was $90 million for about 3,500 claims. Additionally, the Insurance Information Institute reports higher payouts with an estimation that insurance companies paid out a total of $479 million in 2011 alone. That represents a pretty substantial rise from 2010, when $413 million was paid out due to dog bite claims.

Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most at risk of dog bites. The second most vulnerable group is the elderly. The third group with the best chance of being attacked by a dog is, perhaps unsurprisingly, mail carriers. Though mailmen may seem very likely to be bitten by a dog, the fact is that children are some 900 times more likely to be attacked than a mailman.

When it comes to promoting dog safety for children and preventing injury, the CDC says that children should make sure to never do the following things:

  • Stare into a dog’s eyes;
  • Go up to a chained dog;
  • Tease a dog;
  • Touch a dog that is sleeping;
  • Try to play with a dog that is eating;
  • Run or scream if a stray dog comes up.

Instead, the CDC says that the best thing for a child to do is to stay very still and quiet if a dog approaches them. Children should also ask an owner before reaching out to pet a dog and let the dog smell their closed hand first.

One question we often get is there such a thing as the one bite rule. The short answer under Alabama law is no. If the dog is a regarded as a vicious breed, then pet owner is presumed to be on notice of the dog’s vicious propensities. Currently the only breed to be regarded as vicious as a matter of law is the Pit Bull. For other breeds, the victim must establish that the owner knew the dog had a vicious nature or propensity. This could be proven by a previous bite or it could be established through testimony of others who have seen the dog act in an aggressive nature in the past. Needless to say, this can be difficult to establish that is why it is important to hire an experienced Alabama dog bite attorney.

Unfortunately, these types of animal attacks happen too often, despite the efforts of responsible pet owners. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite or attack and you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, please contact the experienced Huntsville personal injury attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. for a free personal injury consultation today.

Source: “State Farm pays $109 million for dog bite claims,” published