California Leads the US in Dog Bites

New statistics show that California leads the nation in insurance claims for dog bites, according to the Huffington Post. State Farm Insurance alone paid out over $109 million for 3,800 dog bite claims in California in 2011, said spokesman Eddie Martinez. In 2010, State Farm paid out $90 million for 3,500 claims in the state. Attacks and claims increased 31 percent in 2011 in California. All insurance companies paid $479 million for dog bite claims in the state in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Most dog bites occur actually among a family pet or a known dog,” says ER Dr. Alan Nager. “It’s fairly rare to be bit by a stray dog.”

Many people believe dog owners are only liable for injuries caused by a dog if the dog bit someone else in the past; however, this “one free bite” is not the law in California. Owners are strictly liable for all injuries caused by their dogs, even if the owner was not negligent. California has more dogs and more people than any state in the nation, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have the most dog attacks in the country. The increase in the number of attacks in one year is disturbing, however.

May was National Dog Bite Prevention Month, and the U.S. Postal Service contributed to raise awareness. The Postal Service opted to focus on preventing dog attacks on children instead of mail carriers, however. In fact, children are 900 times more likely to be attacked than a mail carrier, according to spokesman Richard Maher.

So keep a close eye on your children when you are around canines, even ones you are familiar with.

Bonnici Law Group, APC—San Diego personal injury attorney.