Dogs are man’s best friend, docile and loving, wanting nothing more than to play a game of fetch and cuddle on the couch, right? Not always, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute. Dog bite claims accounted for one-third of homeowner’s insurance liability claims across the board in 2017, with claimants racking up nearly $700 million in claims from dog bite attacks and maulings.
In the past, State Farm, one of the biggest home insurers, has dubbed dog bites as a ‘serious public health problem.’ The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to concur. According to the CDC, 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in our country. And while not all of those millions of bites are serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor, many of them are, with CDC reports estimating roughly 19 percent of all dog bites require medical attention. Cuts, scrapes, puncture wounds and lacerations are common, and nerve damage due to severe bites is not unusual. The CDC also tells us that one in five dog bites become infected, which can lead to other serious problems.
Most victims of dog bite attacks “know” the dog that attacks them. Such was the case on January 18 when a mother and child were attacked by the family pit bull mix in their home in Castaic. The pair suffered severe enough injuries, including facial injuries, that they were airlifted to the hospital, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The CDC notes that children and the elderly are most vulnerable to dog bite attacks.
Being attacked by a dog is scary, but the CDC says it is sometimes preventable. The organization says to never pet someone’s dog before asking, and to remain motionless when approached by unfamiliar dogs. If a dog knocks you down, curl yourself into a ball and tuck your head in, placing your hands over your neck and ears. Don’t run from a dog that’s acting aggressively, since the dog’s natural instinct is to chase you. Never:
- Approach unfamiliar dogs
- Make loud noises or panic if being attacked
- Disturb a sleeping dog or a dog that is eating
- Disturb a mother dog caring for pups
- Pet the dog without allowing it to sniff you first
- Encourage aggressive play
- Allow small children to play with any dog without supervision
If an unfamiliar dog approaches, avoid eye contact, and don’t panic. Stay calm and still, and use a firm voice to command the dog to “Go home.” Turn the side of your body to the dog; standing with your face to the dog signals aggression.
Seek treatment right away if you’ve been bitten by a dog. Be sure to see a medical provider if the wound is bleeding uncontrollably, you lose function at the bite area or elsewhere, you’re in extreme pain, or if your bone or muscle is exposed. Also seek treatment if the wound is or becomes swollen, warm or painful.
Contact our office to speak with our Los Angeles dog bite attorney if someone else’s dog caused you or a loved one harm.