I have recently received a good bit of heated interest in my last two posts (here and here) on the Maryland Court of Appeals opinion in Tracey v. Solesky, in which the court held that in dog bite cases involving a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull mix, plaintiff no longer needs to prove that the dog in particular, or pit bulls, in general, are dangerous.
There is no question that dog bite claims make up their fair share of serious personal injury claims. Here are some statistics:
- The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year. State Farm, the insurance company in Solesky, paid more than $109 million on about 3,800 dog bite claims nationwide in 2011. In 2010, State Farm had approximately 3,500 claims and $90 million in payouts.
- The Insurance Information Institute estimated that nearly $479 million in dog bite claims were paid by all insurance companies in 2011, spokeswoman Loretta Worters said. In 2010, it was $413 million.
- The CDC says that dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people each year. Over half of the victims are children. Most of these bites are not serious. But approximately 800,000 people seek medical attention for the bites each year. Sixteen people a year die from dog bites. It has to be said: most of these are from pit bulls. Still, at least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the last 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
- Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered.
- The median (not average) dog bite verdict in Maryland over the last 23 years is $24,600.
- At particular risk for dog bites are (1) children ages 5 to 9 years old, (2) seniors, and (3) postmen. Children are the biggest risk. Kids are 900 times more likely to be attacked than a letter carrier.
- State Farm’s average cost per dog bite nationally in 2011 was $28,799.
- Approximately one-fourth of dog bite claims are like Solesky in that they involve unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property. I think these are the dog bite injuries that most concern the public.
Dog Bite Statistics Update
- According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowner insurers paid $797 million in dog bite and other dog-related injury claims.
- According to the Triple-I, there were 17,802 dog bite claims in 2019. This is a 2.9 increase from 2018.
- The average cost per dog bite claim in 2019 was $44,760. This was 14.7 percent higher than in 2018, which was $39,017.
- Between 2003 and 2019, the average cost per claim increased by 134 percent. This was because of increases in medical costs, settlement sizes, judgments, and jury verdicts.
- According to a 2019 study, the highest reported breed for dog bites is “unknown.” It is followed by pit bulls, mixed breeds, German shepherds, terriers, and rottweilers.
- Forty-eight dog bite fatalities occurred in 2019. About 70 percent of them involved pit bulls.
- In 2019, 27 percent of dog bite fatality victims were children 9 and under, 6 percent were between ages 10 and 18, and 67 percent were adults 19 years and older.
- Over 63 percent of fatal dog bites in 2019 involved more than one dog.
- About 27,000 dog bite victims underwent reconstructive surgery in 2018.
One thing I have gathered from the comments to my blog post, and my reading more about this issue, is that dog lovers support dog bite victims and seem to largely support strict liability in dog bite cases. What dog lovers almost universally seem to detest is the discriminating against pit bulls as the court does in Tracey v. Solesky.
- The Maryland Court of Special Appeals opinion in Tracey v. Solesky (the intermediate appellate court opinion)
- Will strict liability for pit bulls cost Maryland $174 million a year?