While dog bite claims fell overall in the year of the coronavirus pandemic, the total cost of dog bite insurance claims spiked to new record levels. A new analysis of 2020 data from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm showed the dramatic spike in dog bite claim costs.
According to the report, the number of dog bites and related injury claims in 2020 fell by 4.6% from the previous year – from 17,800 in 2019 to 16,990 in 2020. But the average claim cost soared, with dog bite insurance policies paying out more than $850 million in 2020.
As the pandemic took hold in March 2020, dog bite claims saw a sudden uptick. As more people stayed at home and were able to walk their dogs, the number of claims was up 21.6% compared to the previous March. These figures evened out, and the year eventually saw fewer overall claims. However, while the number of claims was down overall in 2020, the total cost of claims paid by dog bite insurance policies rose 7.1% to $853.7 million – up from $796.8 million in 2019.
The average cost per claim was $50,245, up 12.3% from a year ago. This newly released data shows a years-long trend of climbing claim costs. The average cost per claim nationally rose 162% from 2003 to 2020, largely because of higher medical costs, larger jury awards, and settlements for plaintiffs.
Liability of Pet Owners
California has a strict liability statute when it comes to dog bites. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance typically cover dog bites up to the policy’s liability limits. However, if the claim exceeds that amount, the dog owner is responsible for the remainder. Some insurers also have lists of potentially high-risk dog breeds they don’t cover such as pit bulls and rottweilers, which appear to be involved in a disproportionately high number of serious injury/fatal dog attacks that are covered in the media.
Compensation for Injured Victims
Dog attacks often result not just in physical injuries, but also in psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Dog owners can be held liable for the injuries, damages, and losses their pets cause including medical expenses lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, cost of cosmetic surgery, psychological treatment, permanent injuries, disabilities, emotional distress, and past and future pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced California dog bite lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.