Man’s best friend doesn’t always act so friendly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. More than half of dog bite victims are children, who are far more likely to sustain severe injuries.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm, dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost $1.13 billion in liability claims in 2022. This eye-watering figure represents a 28% increase over the $882 million paid in 2021, despite a 2.2% decrease in the number of claims.
More than one-third of the dog-related injury claims were filed in five states. California once again led the nation with 1,954 claims, followed by Florida (1,331), Texas (1,017), New York (969) and Michigan (905). While the number of claims in the Empire State increased in 2022, New York ceded the dubious honor of highest average claim cost to California and Florida at $78,818 and $78,203, respectively.
In 2022, the average cost per claim increased 31.7%, from $49,025 to $64,555. Nationally, the average cost per claim has risen 131.7% from 2013 to 2022, due to higher medical costs and larger settlements, judgments and jury awards.
Dog-Related Injury Implications for Landlords
Liability concerns may convince some landlords to adopt either a no-pets policy or a very restrictive pet policy. Legal website Nolo says that it’s rare for a landlord to be found liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog. Simply renting to a tenant with a dog does not make the landlord legally responsible for the pet’s actions.
Generally speaking, landlord liability for dog-related injuries depends on one of the following conditions:
- Failure to remove a dog that is known to be dangerous
- Control over the dog, such as agreeing to pet-sit in the owner’s absence
To know that a dog poses a danger, the landlord must know that it previously threatened or injured someone. Knowing that a tenant chains a dog that barks when approached, for instance, does not necessarily transfer liability to a landlord. Under such circumstances, a New York court did not hold a landlord liable for an injury caused by a tenant’s dog.
Someone who cares for or otherwise exercises control over a dog often has the same liability as the legal owner. Even landlords who love animals should think twice about special requests concerning pets. (Take this suggestion in the same spirit as the one about not loaning equipment to contractors.)
Whether you have a pet-free or pet-friendly policy, call our office at 877-576-5200. Make sure your commercial insurance policy has the right liability protection.