Dog bite claims among homeowners on the rise

Every year throughout West Virginia and the rest of the U.S., approximately 4.5 million cases of dog bites are reported. Roughly one in every five sends the victim to the emergency room. In 2017, dog bite claims accounted for one-third of all liability insurance claims among homeowners, and the payouts averaged about $37,000 per claim. With somewhere between 70 million and 90 million pet dogs in the country, it's not surprising that the most frequent victims are postal workers and children.

The way to decrease the number of dog bites, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, is through education and responsible ownership. Supervising children and keeping dogs in a separate room when a postal worker comes up to the door are just two essential steps. Owners should teach their children not to pull, grab, pinch or corner dogs as these actions can provoke defensive actions.

When training their dogs, owners should use more positive, reward-based methods than those based on punishment. They could ask a veterinarian about reputable training programs. Socializing their dog is another important factor. They should also learn their dog's body language; if the dog starts to act erratically, it could be due to a medical condition. Unfortunately, many misunderstand dog behaviors. For instance, a wagging tail may signal not happiness but apprehension.

It's important to understand that many dogs can lash out unexpectedly. Victims of dog bites could seek compensation for their medical expenses, missed wages and other losses by either filing a personal injury claim or a premises liability claim. It all depends on whether the incident took place in or out of the owner's home. In either case, victims could benefit from legal representation.

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