The nonprofit Dogsbite.org has released its 2019 Dog Bite Fatality Report, which raises a number of significant concerns. According to the report, in 2019, dogs killed 48 people in the United States, the highest death count on record. There were also other new records set in 2019. Victims in the 30-49 age group outnumbered the 0-4 age group for the first time. Also, attacks involving multiple dogs comprised 63% of deaths and off-property attacks soared 75% above the 14-year average.
What the Report States
The report shows that of the 48 dog-related deaths, pit bulls contributed to 69%. Pit bulls make up about 8% of the U.S. dog population. Mixed breeds had the second-highest death rate. Pit bulls participated in 50% of the mixed-breed attacks, the report states. Rottweilers followed in third place.
In 2019, for the first time on record, adult victims in the 30-49 age range outnumbered victims in the 0-4 age group, which historically has the highest number of dog bite-related fatalities. Pit bulls inflicted 85% of these adult deaths. Also, 62% of the dogs that killed in the 30-39 age group had a previous history of attacking other human beings. Last year, 42% of fatal dog attacks occurred off the dog owner’s property. California led all states in lethal dog attacks in 2019 with nine deaths. Pit bulls were involved in 89% of these fatalities.
Liability in Dog Attacks
These numbers are truly disturbing and show that dog attacks have the potential to result in catastrophic injuries or even death. These statistics reaffirm the fact that adults are as vulnerable to fatal dog attacks as young children. California is the leading state for dog attacks, has a strict liability statute when it comes to dog bite incidents. This essentially means that dog owners can be held liable for injuries and damages inflicted by their pets.
California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Families of deceased dog bite victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against dog owners and other responsible parties for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering (of the victim), and loss of love, care, and companionship. An experienced California dog bite lawyer can help injured victims and families of victims evaluate and exercise their legal rights.