Dog Bite Injuries and Fatalities on the Rise
There are an estimated 83 million dogs in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 percent of the US population (4.7 million individuals) suffer dog bites every year, with nearly 20 percent (885,000) of those injuries being so severe that they require medical treatment. A study published in 2010 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that the number of Americans hospitalized for dog bite injuries increased by an astounding 86 percent over a 16 year period.
Chicago dog bite lawyers are witness to the alarming increase in dog bite related claimsnationwide over the past few years. The National Insurance Institute reports that dog bite related injury claims have risen from approximately $324 million in 2003 to an astounding $490 million in 2012. Unfortunately, the state of Illinois was second in the nation for dog bite injury claims in 2012 and 2013, and according to NBC Chicago, State Farm reported that Illinois had 309 dog bite injury claims costing a whopping $8.9 million- accounting for a full 10 percent of all dog attack claims paid by the company.
Not only has the number of dog bite injuries increased over the past few decades, the number of fatalities related to dog bites has risen significantly as well. During the 1980s and 1990s, an average of 17 dog bite fatalities occurred each year in the United States. From 2006 to 2013, however, the average number of deaths increased to more than 30, with 42 occurring in 2014 alone.
Who is Under Attack?
Individuals of all walks of life are at risk for dog bite injuries, but those who are more commonly victims include:
- Children: Unfortunately, the majority of dog bite victims are children. The CDC reports that approximately half of all dog bite victims in the United States are children, with the rate being the highest among children who are between the ages of 5 and 9. According to the American Humane association, 66 percent of children bitten suffer injuries to the head and neck. Additionally, children are more likely to die in dog bite attacks due to their smaller size. Approximately 70 percent of fatalities among dog bite children involve victims who are under the age of 10.
- Postal Workers: Approximately 5,900 postal workers suffered dog bites in 2012. A US Postal Service study published in 2013 reports that 41 dog bite incidents occurred in 2012 in Chicago alone, ranking them third in the nation.
- Family and Friends: An astonishing 77 percent of all dog bites in the United States are the pet of the victim’s friends or family members, and approximately 50 percent occur on the property of the dog owner.
The Most Dangerous Dogs
While all dog breeds have the potential to become aggressive, some breeds are more dangerous than others. According to Merritt Clifton, editor of Animals 24-7, the breeds that cause the most disfiguring injuries and fatalities are rottweilers, pit bulls, mastiffs, sharpeis, boxers, and other molosser breeds and their mixes. Attacks from these breeds are responsible for:
- 86% of dog bite attacks that result in bodily harm
- 89% of dog bites to adults
- 81% of attacks where children are the victims
- 76% of dog bite fatalities
Between 2005 and 2013, pit bulls were responsible for the death of 203 Americans- an alarming 60 percent of the total dog bite fatalities. In 2014 alone, pit bulls were the cause of 27 fatalities, 62 percent of all dog bite deaths in the United States, despite being regulated in more than 700 US cities.
The Impact of Dog Attacks
Dog attacks can result in severe injuries that require extensive, and sometimes ongoing medical treatment and counseling.
- Many dog bite victims, especially children, suffer from injuries that are so severe that they are disfiguring or disabling.
- In 2012 alone, over 27,000 Americans underwent reconstructive surgery to repair injuries suffered from dog bites.
- Every day, approximately 1,000 Americans receive dog bite injuries that require emergency room treatment.
- The average cost of a dog bite related hospital stay is approximately 50 percent higher than the cost of hospital stays related to other types of injuries.
- 10.5 percent of those hospitalized for dog bites suffer wounds to the head, neck, and torso.
- Many victims of dog bites suffer from PTSD or other emotional issues that can affect their quality of life for years after the incident.
Fortunately, the Illinois Animal Control Act ensures that dog owners are held liable for injuries sustained from a dog attack. A Chicago dog bite lawyer who is experienced with the laws in Illinois can help victims and their families receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, damaged property, and pain and suffering.