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More bite than bark: A look at how much a dog bite costs

Dogs can make wonderful additions to a family; but as Victoria Stilwell from Animal Planet's show "It's Me or the Dog" explains, "All dogs have the potential to bite." This isn't an exaggeration either. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite cases make up roughly one-third of all homeowner's insurance claims in the nation, making dog attacks more of a problem than most people realize.

The frequency of these types of accidents isn't the only startling fact, however. According to a 2015 Insurance Journal article, the cost of a dog bite claim increased by 67 percent between 2003 and 2014 as a result of "increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards."

So what exactly is the cost of a dog bite? Let's take a look.

A look at the numbers

According to the most recent statistical data available, the average dog bite costs around $32,000. This often includes the cost for staying in the hospital, any surgeries to close a wound, prescription medication, medical equipment such as crutches or wheelchairs, and rehabilitative therapy.

This amount can be higher if you take into consideration additional costs such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and the need for any additional surgeries to correct disfigurement or scarring. If a victim's injuries result in permanent disability and the loss of the ability to work, costs could be even higher.

In 2014 alone, Texas ranked seventh in the nation for the highest average claim cost for a dog bite case. In that year, 621 claims were filed associated with dog attacks, each averaging out to around $16,205.

Dog owners are responsible for their pets

The risk of a dog attack can be significantly decreased if dog owners take the time to "raise, teach and socialize a dog correctly," explains Victoria Stilwell. Texas premises liability law agrees and goes a step further by also holding pet owners responsible for identifying and correcting dangerous behavior before someone gets hurt. Failing to adhere to this duty of care is negligence, which can lead to a personal injury lawsuit and compensation for a victim or a victim's family.

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