Dog Bite Attacks and Claims

dog bite litigation

It is rare for a  month to pass without news of a child being attacked and bitten by a vicious dog.  Dog bites occur often and can result in disfigurement or even fatalities.

According to a Vet Med Today special Report (JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6., September 15, 2000, during 1997 and 1998, at least 27 people died of dog bite attacks (18 in 1997 and 9 in 1998).


At least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human dog bite-related fatalities during the past 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths.

Of 227 reports with relevant data, 55 (24%) human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners’ property, 133 (58%) involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property, 38 (17%) involved restrained dogs on their owners’ property, and 1 (< 1%) involved a restrained dog off its owner’s property.

Merritt  Clifton, editor of Animal People,  reported that between 1982 and 2013, the breeds most responsible for serious injury and death included the combination of molosser breeds, including pit bulls, curs, rottweilers, presa canarios, cane corsos, mastiffs, dogo argentinos, fila brasieros, sharpeis, boxers, and their dog bite litigationmixes, inflicted:

81% of attacks that induce bodily harm

76% of attacks to children

87% of attack to adults

72% of attacks that result in fatalities

81% that result in maiming

Embody 9.2%+ of the total dog population

According to the Insurance Institute, it is estimated that up to a third of home owners liability claims are for dog bites. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every years resulting in over $400 million in medical costs.

It should be noted that not all homeowner’s insurance policies cover costs associated with dog bites, and some breeds of dogs are excluded in some policies.

Where a homeowners or renters insurance policy covers dog bites, some insurance companies have a “one-bite rule” (the first occurrence is covered; however, the policy will cancel or require a “canine exclusion” on a second or subsequent occurrence).

dog bite attorneyIn the event that the insurance company unreasonably refuses to settle with an injured claimant and the claimant sues the policyholder, the insurance company may be on the hook for the full amount for which the policyholder is found liable.  The policyholder may be  able to pursue a “bad faith” claim against the insurance company  which could require the insurance company to  pay the full amount even if it exceeds the policy limits.

Additionally, the claimant may be entitled to “punitive damages” which are intended to punish the wrongdoer, in this case, the policyholder.

One dog bite incident that settled for 1.5 million involved a young girl that suffered a traumatic dog bite to her face leaving her disfigured and in excruciating pain.

Obviously, insurance companies are not eager to pay a fair settlement on these types of cases, and litigation is often necessary in order for the victim to be fairly compensated for injuries suffered. It is imperative that victims of dog bites obtain competent legal representation to aggressively pursue a claim against the policyholder.

By properly documenting the case, obtaining proper medical treatment and therapy, and adequately addressing all available damages, full compensation may be obtained for pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost wages, deprivation of right to enjoy life, as well as, psychological and other injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog attack, contact: Anthony Overton Van Johnson & Associates, P.C. at 678-882-7355, or e-mail: for a free consultation.