According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are an estimated 70 million dogs in the United States, and nearly 13 million in the state of Illinois alone. Approximately 36 percent of homes in the U.S. report having at least one dog. Unfortunately, among our millions of four legged friends are dangerous, and sometimes deadly attackers. The AVMA estimates that approximately 4.7 million people in America are bitten by our canine companions every year, and of those, an estimated 20 percent require medical treatment. Additionally, an alarming 350,000 dog attack victims are seen in hospital emergency rooms nationwide each year.
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As if the number of dog bites that result in injuries each year isn’t disturbing enough, some dog bites are so severe that they cause victims to lose their lives, and that number is steadily climbing. Twenty years ago, the average number of dog bite fatalities in America was approximately 17. Unfortunately, that number has climbed to a startling average of 30 dog bite fatalities per year, with 42 occurring in 2014 alone.
Which Breeds are Leading the Pack with Serious and Fatal Dog Bites?
While the dog bite epidemic includes dogs of numerous breeds, some attacks are more dangerous than others.
- Pit bulls, rottweilers, and their mixes accounted for 74% of all dog bite fatalities in 2014.
- Of the 326 dog bite fatalities that occurred in the past decade, 203 (62%) were attributed to pit bulls and rottweilers.
- Attacks from these and other molosser breeds account for approximately 86% of bites that result in serious bodily harm.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) stopped tracking fatal dog bites by breed in 1998. According to DogBite.org, Pit bulls are projected to have killed approximately 305 Americans from the time tracking ceased to 2017.
Children and Dog Attacks
Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of dog attacks. Between 2001 and 2012, approximately 360,000 children were reported to have been attacked by dogs in the U.S. An alarming 37 percent of those were children between the ages of 5 and 9, and a whopping 66 percent of children under 4 suffered injuries to the head and neck. Additionally, children are more likely than adults to suffer from fatal injuries caused by dog maulings. Reports indicate that children under the age of 13 accounted for 48 percent of all dog bite fatalities in 2014.
Dogs Going Postal
Children aren’t the only victims of dog bites, however. In 2014, it is reported that 5,767 U.S. Postal workers were attacked by dogs. The Washington Post reports that 268 postal workers in Illinois reported dog bites in 2013, and 47 of those occurred in Chicago alone, ranking them fifth in the nation.
Dogs and the Elderly
Elderly Americans are another group that is likely to suffer at the jowls of a dog, and like children, their injuries are often more severe or fatal. In 2014, annual data shows that 73 percent of adults who were fatally attacked were 50 years of age or older.
The Cost of Dog Attacks
Dog bite victims often suffer from injuries and emotional trauma so severe that they require extensive hospital stays and expensive medical treatment.
- An average of 1,000 Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each day as a result of dog attacks.
- The average cost of a hospital stay for a dog bite victim is 50% higher than the cost of a hospital stay for victims suffering from other types of injuries.
- Approximately 10% of hospitalized victims suffer injuries to the head, neck and torso.
- More than 27,000 dog bite victims underwent reconstructive surgery in 2012.
Additionally, victims and their families often suffer from lost wages, which not only causes added stress, but puts their personal property at risk for loss as well. Because of this, it’s no wonder costs for dog attack claims have soared.
- In 2014, approximately 16,550 dog attack claims accounted for just over one-third of all homeowners insurance claims totaling an estimated $531 million.
- The average pay-out for dog bite claims was $32,072 in 2014, up 15% from $27,862 in 2013.
The Illinois Animal Control Act
Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, dog owners are held liable for damages incurred by victims of dog attacks. Compensation is commonly awarded in the state of Illinois for:
- Lost wages
- Loss of support
- Medical expenses
- Wrongful death
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Property damage
The state of Illinois has been home to approximately one out of every three dog bite cases in the United States with one third of those occurring in Cook County alone where 31 percent of claimants receive between $50,000 and $500,000, and 7 percent receive more than $500,000. An experienced Illinois dog bite lawyer can help victims determine the potential for the success of their unique claim.