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U.S. dog bite claims on the rise

Dog bite claims are on the rise across the United States, according to a report issued by State Farm Insurance. The data was released as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which ran from April 9 through 15 in Georgia and elsewhere.

The report states that there were over 18,000 dog bite claims filed against homeowners in 2016. That is almost 3,500 more claims than were filed in 2006, which is a spike of nearly 20 percent. Further, insurers are paying around $11,000 more per claim than they were a decade ago. In 2016, dog bite payouts totaled over $600 million. Experts say that the increased payouts are linked to a rise in severe dog bites and attacks over the last several years.

Typically, authorities will find the dog owner responsible for any injuries a dog bite victim suffers, but laws vary from state to state. In some states, the owner is always found liable. In other states, a dog must develop a reputation for biting or show a tendency toward aggressive behavior before an owner can be found liable. Some states also consider certain breeds, such as pit bull terriers, to be inherently dangerous to the public. In some cases, dog bite victims may be found responsible for an attack. For example, people who intentionally provoke a dog or ignore "Beware of Dog" signs before entering a private property may have a harder time proving they are entitled to recover.

Dog bite victims may have a strong premises liability case against the dog's owner. A personal injury lawyer could assess a victim's case and explain all legal options available.

Source: FindLaw, "Homeowner Liability for Dog Bite Claims Dramatically Increased, Study Finds", George Khoury, April 12, 2017

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