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How common are dog attacks and how serious are the injuries?

Last month's shocking death of a newborn baby who was mauled by the family dog is a terrible reminder of how dangerous dogs can be.

The fatal attack occurred right here in San Diego, in the Mira Mesa neighborhood. The newborn's mother coughed, startling the family's pit-bull mix. The dog responded by biting the 3-day-old infant, who died of the wounds.

This was a particularly tragic case. But dog bites are a remarkably common problem in San Diego and across the country. How common are they and how serious do the injuries tend to be? In this post, we will address those questions.

Frequency of dog bites

Dog bites are a significant public health problem. The problem is so significant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention track the data. Nationally, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people every year.

It isn't only a few dangerous breeds such as pit bulls that do all this biting either. As we noted in our March 31 post on dog breeds, any dog can bite. Factors relating to a particular dog, such as training and quality of care, are more important than breed in causing aggression.

Vulnerable groups

The most common group affected is children. Fully half of the dog bites that require medical attention each year happen to them. Kids between 5 and 9 are particularly vulnerable.

Senior citizens are vulnerable as well. Seniors are the second most common group for dog bite injuries.

Men are not generally thought of as a vulnerable group. But they are more likely than women to be victims of dog attacks.

It is also important to note that more than half of dog bite injuries are inflicted by familiar dogs in a home setting.

Severity of injuries

Dog attacks claim an average of more than 30 lives a year in the U.S. These cases, such as the recent fatal mauling in San Diego, are especially grim.

They are also the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. Across the country, upwards of 800,000 dog bites a year require medical attention.

The injuries inflicted by dog bites include:

  • Facial injuries, often resulting in scarring and disfigurement
  • Hand injuries
  • Infections
  • Psychological trauma

Children are not only the most likely group to be bitten. They are also more likely to suffer severe injuries than results. The recent fatal mauling in San Diego is an especially vivid example of this fact.

How you respond

If you or someone in your family was injured in a dog attack, you may be uncertain about whether to assert your right to seek compensation. This is especially true when friends, neighbors or other family members owned the dog.

In this situation, it's important to realize that homeowners' insurance policies often have coverage for animal attacks. You can get the guidance you need on next steps by talking with a lawyer who is experienced in handling dog bite cases.

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Bender & Gritz, APLC
350 10th Avenue, Suite 900
San Diego, CA 92101

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