Heymann & Fletcher

Fewer homeowners sued for dog bites in New Jersey, US

Dog bite incidents have declined during the last year in New Jersey and throughout the country. However, reports show that although fewer dog bite claims are being submitted to homeowner's insurance policies, settlements for dog bite claims have actually increased, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. 

They reported that dog bite insurance claims decreased by 1.4 percent last year, but the cost for settling these premises liability claims increased by 1.2 percent in 2012. The average amount paid for dog bite claims last year in the U.S. was $29,752, which is a slight increase compared to the previous year. 

The decrease in dog bite claims across the U.S. is good news but many insurance companies say that homeowners need to be more responsible to help prevent dog bites from happening the first place. Homeowners with dogs can be held legally liable for injuries caused by dog bites.

To address the liability associated with dog bites, most home insurance policies have specific coverage for dog bite claims. However, it is important for dog owners to know that many insurance companies do not cover some dog breeds considered to be more dangerous and more likely to attack someone.

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and many organizations are trying to raise awareness to dog owners on ways to prevent dog bites from happening as well as getting appropriate insurance coverage for dog bite liability claims.

Below is a list of tips for dog owners and ways to reduce the chances of your dog biting someone:

  • Socialize your dog with other people and animals.
  • Teach children not to disturb dogs when the dog is eating or sleeping.
  • Don't leave children alone with any dog.
  • Don't approach a strange dog and avoid eye contact with dogs that look threatening or aggressive.
  • Play non-aggressive games with dogs like fetch instead of more aggressive games.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Average Number of Dog Bite Claims Fall in 2012," May 15, 2013

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