West Virginia residents who own dogs may be interested to learn that over the course of 2016, there were approximately 18,000 dog bite claims that were filed around the country against homeowners. This represents an approximate 20 percent increase over a 10-year period.
In addition to the rise in the number of dog bite claims, the average payout also increased. In fact, the gross amount of the payouts from dog bite claims totaled about $600 million in 2016, a $280 million increase from 2006. Analysts noted that the increase in claims and claim payouts were not caused by policy changes. In fact, the number of severe dog attacks and dog bite cases have simply increased over the last decade.
In general, the owner of the dog is liable for any injuries or deaths that the dog causes. There may be certain circumstances where a dog owner may not be held liable for a dog attack, however, such as if a person trespasses onto a property.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their property is safe for licensees and invitees. This means that, if a dangerous dog bites a person who comes onto the property with the owner’s permission, the owner will most likely be liable. A personal injury attorney may assist with filing a lawsuit against the property owner. By filing the lawsuit, the injured person may seek compensation for the resulting harm, which may include the cost of medical expenses, lost income if they could not work and compensation for emotional distress.