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National Dog Bite Prevention Week aims to curb bites and costs

California has the dubious distinction of being a top state for dog bites. According to State Farm Insurance Company, the state ranked number one in insurance claims for dog bites in 2013. The week of May 15 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week for 2016. The campaign is designed to educate and encourage people to keep their dogs leashed or otherwise under control.

Mail carriers are a common target of dogs. In 2015 there were a reported 6,549 postal employees attacked by dogs. National Dog Bite Prevention Week is sponsored in part by the United States Postal Service. The USPS has taken measures to protect mail carriers from dogs by making residents indicate on delivery applications if a dog is on the premises, and requesting that customers pick up their mail at the post office if a dog on their property is seen as a threat by a mail carrier.

One-third of dog bite victims are children under 14, and bites often come from a family's own dog. Insurance companies and states often have to pay for a portion of the cost of dog bites. A four-year study in Arizona showed that dog bites in the state cost $55 million in hospital treatment, with one-third of the cost being paid by Medicaid.

Dog bites and other animal bites are sometimes covered under homeowner's insurance policies. However, sometimes the settlement offered by the insurer is inadequate. Attorneys representing dog bite victims will know that California law imposes strict liability on the owner of a dog. This means that the owner can be held financially responsible for the injuries incurred by a victim even if the owner had no previous knowledge of the animal's dangerous propensities, although there are some exceptions such as when the victim was a trespasser.

SOURCE: CBS News, 'Find out which state has most dog bite claims", May 18, 2014

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