Over 4.5 Million Dog Bites Occur in the U.S. Each Year
It is not surprising that dogs are known as “man’s best friend” in the United States; they decrease stress, increase exercise levels, and serve as playmates for children. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 38% of households nationwide own one or more dogs, the highest amount since the organization began measuring in 1982. Unfortunately, along with our love of canine companionship comes a negative side— dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency rooms each year or about 1,008 per day!
Dog Attacks on the Rise for Washington Postal Workers
To help raise awareness, the U.S. Postal Service established its annual National Dog Bite Prevention Week every April. This year, USPS announced a significant decline in dog attacks on postal workers: 5,714 in 2018 nationwide, a decrease of over 500 since 2017 and over 1,000 since 2016.
Sadly, statistics for Washington State last year were not as promising. Dog attacks on postal workers increased from 122 to 127. To help combat these attacks, USPS is equipping carriers with mobile deliver scanners which have a feature that allows customers to indicate if there’s a dog at delivery locations. The Postal Service also encourages people in the community to help keep postal workers safe with the following tips:
- Place your dog in a separate room behind a closed door before opening the front door for a letter carrier.
- Remind children and other family members to avoid taking mail directly from a postal worker in the presence of the family dog. The dog may view it as a threatening gesture.
- Be aware that the Postal Service may ask you to pick up mail at the nearest post office if your carrier feels threatened by your dog.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult for us to imagine that our loveable dog may hurt someone,” explains dog bite legal expert and attorney, Jason Epstein, “but unfortunately, I see too many cases when a dog unexpectedly attacks and causes serious injuries.” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over half of dog bite injuries occur at home and by dogs who are familiar to us. Children, ages 5 to 9 years old, have the highest rate of injuries from dog attacks. Take time to learn safety strategies by visiting Premier Law Group’s tips for dog bite prevention.
Expensive Treatment Costs
Many people don’t realize that dog bites can lead to serious health concerns. The CDC reports that nearly 1 in 5 dog bite victims require medical attention for severe injury, infection, pain, and/or nerve damage. Treatment can be expensive with the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay being $18,200! In 2015, more than 28,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery after being bitten by dogs.
It isn’t surprising that dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one third of all homeowners’ liability claims paid out in 2018, costing $675 million according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. In Washington State, the number of dog bite claims continues to rise. According to the Northwest Insurance Council, there were 337 claims with a total value of $13.7 million in 2017.
Dog Bite Victims’ Legal Rights in Washington State
When a dog attack is the result of the carelessness or negligence of the owner, Washington State law holds the dog owner responsible for any severe injuries inflicted on the victim “regardless of former viciousness or owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.” (RCW 16.08.040) “There can be consequences from a dog bite that last a lifetime,” adds attorney Epstein, “including medical bills, loss of wages, and ongoing trauma.”
Jason Epstein and Premier Law Group specialize in helping dog bite victims in the Seattle-Bellevue area receive just compensation for their injuries, but there are time limitations. If you, your child, or other loved one have been bitten due to a dog owner’s negligence, call us at 206-880-7236 for a free case evaluation. For more information about PLG’s expertise representing dog bite victims, visit our Dog Bites page.