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Dog bite insurance payouts on the rise

In May, the U.S. Postal Service, insurers and other groups sponsored National Dog Bite Prevention Week to raise awareness on canine bites, maulings and other attacks. The promotion encouraged people in Georgia and nationwide to keep their dogs leashed, muzzled or fenced in.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog injury claims have dipped by more than 9 percent over the last 12 years, but the costs have jumped by around 94 percent to $571 million. Children under the age of 14 are frequent victims of dog bites, accounting for one-third of all attacks. Postal workers are also under siege, with more than 6,500 mail carriers reporting canine attacks in 2015. As a result, the USPS has announced new safety measures to protect its employees, including requiring customers to inform mail carriers that a canine is on the property before packages are delivered.

Experts warn that homeowners can face an increase in their homeowner's insurance premium or be dropped by their insurer if their dog bites someone on their property. In some states, homeowners can even face criminal charges. Animal advocates also point out that dogs are often euthanized after attacks even though they probably thought they were protecting their owners. To prevent dog attacks, owners are encouraged to socialize their dogs and keep them secured by a leash or fencing when strangers visit.

Dog-bite victims often require extensive medical care, including tetanus and rabies shots, hospitalization and even plastic surgery. To recover these medical expenses and other losses, an attorney could suggest the filing of a premises liability lawsuit against a property owner who failed to warn guests and other invitees of the potential danger involved.

Source: CBS News, "​Dogs are putting the bite on insurers -- and everybody," Ed Leffeldt, May 16, 2016

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