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Dog bites are down while injury claim values are up

One of the many trends of the worldwide pandemic involved the need for canine companionship. Many people who lived alone naturally experienced loneliness when forced to stay within the confines of their residences. Many decided to adopt dogs to ease their tensions.

A dangerous combination

However, the pets were also stuck at home without much, if any, contact with strangers. Those factors were often combined with anxiety and unease felt by the owner and passed down to the pet. Stressed dog owners usually result in stressed dogs who acted out by barking and biting.

While that resulted in a reduction in reported dog bites, the cost of personal injury claims skyrocketed by double digits.

The Insurance Information Institute reported the following:

  • Dog bites and injuries related to attacks dropped by nearly five percent to almost 17,000 in 2020 from the previous year that saw 17,800 incidents
  • Claims jumped more than seven percent, from 796.8 million in 2019 to $853.7 million in 2020
  • Average costs per claim increased from $44,760 to $50,245 (12 percent)

The trend did not just start with the past year. Since 2003, dog bite claims have risen 62 percent. Settlements and jury awards have also seen a similar increase. Many cite the increased presence of certain breeds – many deemed “high-risk” – not usually seen in significantly populated areas. Attacks on children, cyclists, and the elderly also contributed to the ballooning amount of money paid in personal injury lawsuits.

Regardless of a dog’s environment, owners still have a responsibility to ensure that the pet is properly restrained. These types of animal attacks often go beyond a “nip.” Serious and catastrophic injuries can be the result, oftentimes to the most vulnerable members of the population.