New Report Indicates That Dog Attacks Account for One-Third of Homeowner's Insurance Payouts


October 15, 2013

Although a new report shows that homeowner’s insurance payouts for injuries and fatalities caused by dog bites and canine maulings has risen significantly in recent years, the Obama Administration has announced that it opposes the approach of breed-specific bans to combat the issue according to a Huffington Post report.  In response to a petition containing 30,000 signatures calling for breed-specific restrictions on dogs, the White House recently responded with a statement entitled “Breed Specific Legislation Is a Bad Idea.”

The White House supports the position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that more effective and appropriate strategies exist for preventing attacks by vicious dogs.  The CDC’s official position is as follows: “We don’t support breed-specific legislation – research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources…As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites.  And ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners.”

The Obama Administration statement comes in the wake of new research by the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm® suggesting that current approaches to preventing dog attacks are not working.  The report indicates that dog bite injuries now constitute approximately one-third of all amounts paid on homeowner’s insurance claims.  According to the new report, payments on homeowner’s insurance claims for dog bite incidents amounted to nearly $490 million in 2012.  This amounts to double the on similar claims in 2003.

The researchers speculate that a variety of factors may have contributed to the sharp rise in compensation paid to dog bite victims by insurance carriers.  While the rising cost of medical treatment is one of the factors that is presumed to have contributed to the increase, juries also have become more generous in compensating dog attack victims according to the authors of the insurance industry backed study.  The average amount paid on dog bite insurance claims in 2003 was $19,162 whereas the average payout in 2012 was $29,752 according to the report.

Georgia law imposes “strict liability” (i.e. liability without proof of negligence) on dog owners whose dog bites someone under certain circumstances.  If a dog is not on a leash in compliance with a local ordinance, the owner may be financially liable without fault for injuries or fatalities caused by his or her dog.  The leash law that is applicable for Atlanta residents falls under the regulations for Fulton County.  This regulation imposes a requirement that dogs be controlled on a leash that is under six feet in length.  If the dog owner complies with the leash law, he or she may still be financially responsible for injuries caused by a dog attack if the dog owner is negligent or the owner has reason to know that the dog has vicious tendencies.

If you or someone you love has suffered injury caused by a dog or other animal attack, our Georgia dog bite attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. 

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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