New Report Indicates Georgia among Top 10 States for Dog Bite Claims
A recently released report provided by the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm® indicates that Georgia is among the top ten states for dog bites claims. State Farm® is the largest provider of homeowners’ insurance policies in the United States. During 2013, the insurer allegedly paid 106 Georgia dog bite claims that resulted in a total payout in the amount of $2.1 million. The report demonstrates that our state has a ways to go in terms of adequately protecting individuals from dangerous dogs and indifferent dog owners.
Dog bite injuries constitute the most common liability claim against homeowners’ insurance policies. Dog bites accounted for a third of all homeowner claim payouts during 2013. The average amount of insurance payouts for dog bite claims has risen 45 percent over the last decade. The total amount paid nationally by homeowners’ insurance companies for dog bites in 2013 was $483 million. The total number of claims increased by 5.5 percent during 2013.
Dog bites can inflict a significant financial and emotional toll on victims. The costs associated with medical treatment and reconstructive surgery following a dog attack can be substantial. During a recent one year period, injuries caused by dog bites were responsible for 27,000 cases of reconstructive surgery according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While the financial hardships of medical bills, surgery, therapy and time of work can be difficult, the emotional toll of a dog bite can also have a lasting impact. Children are the most likely victims of dog bite injuries. The CDC reports that children between the ages of 5 and 9 are the most frequent victims of dog bites serious enough to require medical attention. A vicious dog attack can cause a child to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to the journal Contemporary Pediatrics. The article indicates that research over the past decade reveals that PTSD is experienced by a high percentage of young children who are attacked by a dog.
Symptoms of PTSD resulting from a dog bite typically include some or all of the following symptoms:
- Excessive anxiety
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of appetite
- Exaggerated startle response
- Physical complaints
- Reduced creativity
- Diminished school performance
- Behavioral issues
The author of the article indicates that these symptoms can occur at any time and may be exacerbated when the child sees or is near a dog. The PTSD can be so severe that children experiences excessive fear or total avoidance. If your child suffers a dog bite because of an irresponsible dog owner, your child may have a right to financial compensation. Owners of dogs can be held liable for injuries caused by a bite under multiple theories of liability that include (1) negligence; (2) knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities; or (3) violation of a leash law or ordinance.
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