Report: Dog bites claims jump 42 percent in Ohio

According to a recent report from State Farm Insurance, Ohio now ranks third in terms of the most dog bite claims filed.

Many people do not realize that when a dog bites someone, it is often the animal's owner's homeowners insurance that foots the bill for associated expenses. In Ohio, this happens all too often. The Ohio Department of Health states that in 2015, there were 20,654 events in which someone could have been exposed to rabies. Of those, most of which were bites to humans, dogs accounted for 77.7 percent.

These bites result in a range of issues, ranging from minor scratches to fatalities. Unfortunately, one report states that Ohio has seen a significant increase in the number of insurance claims involving dog bites.

By the numbers

A report from The Cincinnati Enquirer cites data from State Farm Insurance, noting that between 2015 and last year, there was a 42 percent jump in dog bite injury claims. These 211 claims brought the state up to third in the country in terms of how many such claims are filed each year.

In Ohio alone, the insurer says it paid more than $7.5 million in claims. Across the country, 3,660 claims cost State Farm more than $121 million.

How insurance and dog bites work

Many homeowners' insurance policies carry coverage for dog bites. However, some companies refuse to provide policies for people who own specific breeds that have been deemed dangerous. The Insurance Information Institute notes that the liability limits on dog bite coverage usually range from $100,000 to $300,000. In Ohio, people who own so-called "vicious" dogs must have at least $100,000 in liability insurance.

Filing a claim with an insurance company following an attack could return damages that cover medical expenses. However, these policies typically only cover the first bite, and there may be exceptions, such as if the bite occurs off the owner's property. A car insurance policy could come into play in those circumstances.

When to file a lawsuit

Unfortunately, there are circumstances in which there is no insurance policy or the policy comes up short. In those cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to secure maximum compensation for all the damages suffered. In Ohio, the dog owner is strictly liable for the harm caused. In other words, a victim does not need to demonstrate that the owner was in some way negligent. The exception is that if the victim was teasing or tormenting the dog, in which case, a lawsuit may not be fruitful.

Because recovering from a dog attack could be a long and expensive road, it is important for victims to take action. Make a list of every associated expense or loss. File paperwork with an insurance company and alert the authorities. Should anyone have a question about this issue, he or she should speak with a dog bite attorney in Ohio.