Although the majority of dogs kept as companion animals show no signs of aggression, dog bite attacks are more common than you might expect. Dogs will bite when they feel threatened or when they are trying to defend their young. To stay safe, you must understand the statistical risk factors for dog bite attacks as well as how to protect your legal rights following an attack.
Dog Bites Pose a Serious Safety Concern
There are approximately 4.5 million dog bites that occur each year, with a new dog bite attack occurring every 75 seconds. Dog bite victims may suffer broken bones, muscle or nerve damage, and scarring. Anxiety is also quite common following an attack, especially if the victim is a young child.
To fully understand the dangers posed by dog bites, consider the following statistics:
- Every day, over 1,000 children and adults in the United States seek emergency medical treatment for dog bite injuries.
- Nearly 1 out of 5 dog bites will become infected.
- In 2015, over 28,000 people required reconstructive plastic surgery as a result of dog bite attacks.
- Dog bite claims accounted for over one-third of all homeowners’ insurance claims in 2015, resulting in payouts of over $570 million.
- When you consider medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related costs, dog bite victims suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses each year.
Dog Bite Risk Factors
When you evaluate the pattern of dog bite injuries in the United States, several risk factors emerge. The following is a brief overview:
- Age – People of all ages can be vulnerable to dog bite attacks, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children between the ages of five and nine are at the highest risk because they don't always understand how to stay safe around animals.
- Gender – In all age brackets, males are substantially more likely to be victims of dog bite attacks than females.
- Location – Dog bite attacks are more common in rural areas than in larger cities. This is likely due to the fact that dogs in less populated areas are more likely to be allowed to roam freely.
- Dog packs – A single dog bite can cause serious injuries, but fatalities are more likely to occur when the victim is surrounded by a pack of dogs. In 2015, 50 percent of all dog bite fatalities involved more than one dog and 15 percent involved a pack of four or more dogs.
- Familiar dogs – When the general public thinks about dog bite attacks, most of us worry about stray dogs. However, you're just as likely to be attacked by a familiar dog. In 2015, 32 percent of dog bite fatality victims were either visiting or living with the dog's owner when they were attacked.
Dangerous Dog Breeds
Although any dog can attack if it feels threatened, serious dog bite injuries are most often associated with breeds such as Pit bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
Between 2005 and 2015, pit bulls were responsible for 64 percent of all dog bite fatalities. Pit bulls and Rottweilers combined were responsible for 76 percent of the total recorded deaths. In 2015 alone, pit bulls were responsible for 82 percent of dog bite deaths. Pit bulls and Rottweilers together accounted for 91 percent of all fatalities.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
California is classified as a statutory strict liability state, so you're not required to prove an owner’s negligence to seek compensation in a dog bite attack case. If you've been injured in a dog bite attack, the owner of the dog is responsible for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. If your child has been injured, you can seek compensation on his or her behalf. In the event of a fatal dog attack, the victim's immediate family members can pursue a wrongful death claim.
The legal team at the Inland Empire Law Group has extensive experience assisting California residents in settling or trying dog bite claims. If you or a family member has suffered a serious dog bite injury, we want to help you find the financial relief you deserve. Please call us at either (909) 481-0100 or (888) MY IE LAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.