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Report: Dog bites cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year

An attack on a human by a dog can leave behind devastating injuries, both physical and psychological. The devastation caused by dog bites was recently made clear again when State Farm Insurance released a report showing that it paid out more than $109 million for dog bite claims in Wisconsin and across the nation last year.

That amount was paid out on approximately 3,800 dog bite claims filed in 2011. That works out to an average of about $28,600 per claim.

The year before, the company paid out about $90 million on 3,500 claims. So the number of claims is on the rise; dog bite claims rose nearly 10 percent in just one year for that one insurance company.

The Insurance Information Institute says dog bite claims paid across the insurance industry totaled nearly $479 million last year. In 2010, the total paid out to dog bite victims was about $413 million.

In California, the state where the most dog bite claims are filed, there were 527 claims filed last year, with victims receiving $20.3 million. That's a startling rise in payouts of 31 percent over 2010, according to the insurance industry.

State Farm says it can't explain the sudden surge in bites, claims and compensation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said approximately 4.7 million are bitten each year by dogs, with more than 50 percent of the victims being children. Of those millions bitten, about 800,000 get medical attention for their injuries.

The group suffering the most bites: kids ages five to nine years old. The next largest group of victims is senior citizens, the CDC said.

Source: USA Today, "State Farm pays $109 million for dog bite claims," May 17, 2012

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