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The high toll of dog bites

Dogs are beloved across America and around the world as loyal companions, allies and members of the family. Many people even treat their pets as they would children, dressing them up in clothes, celebrating their birthdays and bringing them along on family vacations.

While it is true that most dogs are loving and affectionate - you don't earn the title of "man's best friend" for nothing, after all - many of them can still turn aggressive and attack. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and more than 885,000 of those bites are serious enough to seek medical attention.

Increasing costs for dog bite claims

The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that, in 2015 alone, claims for dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners' insurance companies a record $570 million. That amount represents more than one-third of all homeowners claim costs paid out over the year. The number of claims filed has been steadily trending downward for several years now, but the amount that each dog bite costs has increased dramatically, rising over 94 percent since 2003, due in no small part to the skyrocketing expense of seeking medical care following an animal attack.

Dog bite injuries can be difficult to treat because the wounds are often jagged in nature, infection is a constant risk, and worries about scarring mean that plastic surgeons and other high-price experts are needed as part of the care team. These complications only add to the dollar amount incurred by victims.

Wisconsin is a leader in dog bite claims

According to the III, Wisconsin actually had the eighth-highest rate of dog bite claims filed with homeowners' insurers in the country for 2015, with each claim resulting in an average payout of $34,423 to the injured party. Keep in mind that this doesn't include any verdicts or settlements paid out as a result of lawsuits brought against owners of vicious dogs, but only focuses on homeowners' insurance claim payments.

If you've been bitten by a dog, chances are good that the amount that the dog owner's insurer wants to pay you won't be enough to fully compensate you for your injuries. To avoid jeopardizing your legal rights and possibly accepting an amount that doesn't cover all the expenses you incur for treatment, lost wages, rehabilitation, plastic surgery and other related costs, you should strongly consider seeking the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney before settling any dog bite claim.

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