We have heard many dog attack stories. In every one of them, the dog owner always insisted that their dogs would never attack or harm anyone. Well, biting is a dog's instinct and it always happens. When it does happen, the dog owner can be liable for a lot of money or even face jail time.
All dog owners need to understand their potential liability should their animal bite, maul or, heaven forbid, kill someone. A single bite could cost you tens of thousands of dollars -- a lawsuit hundreds of thousands -- and your insurance coverage might not apply. If the attack is especially serious, you could even go to jail.
Dog bites make up one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and cost insurers $356 million in 2007.
The average cost of a dog-bite claim was $24,511 in 2007, the institute found. That's 11.5% more than the year before and 28% more than in 2003.
More than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly a million of them need medical attention. Some die. Last year, 32 people in the U.S. were killed by dogs, according to Los Angeles attorney Kenneth Phillips, who specializes in dog-bite cases.
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