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Ohio high in number of dog bite claims

Dog bites and animal attacks have the potential to cause serious injury, both physical and psychological. Every year, almost five million people are attacked or bitten by a dog, which creates serious public health concerns as the victims work through the physical and emotional side effects.

In Ohio, a dog owner is responsible for the dog and may be liable for any attacks. If the dog bite or attack occurs on the owner's property, the owner may be liable for maintaining a dangerous or unsafe condition and subject to premises liability laws.

Last year, according to State Farm Insurance, Ohio ranked number four in dog bite claims. In 2011, Ohio totaled 215 dog bite claims at a cost of $5.4 million. While State Farm itself paid $109 million in total dog bite claims, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurers nationally paid nearly $479 million for dog bite claims.

Children and elderly persons are common victims of dog bites, with more than half of all dog bite victims being children. Child victims are especially upsetting. Depending on the severity of the attack, a child might have to live the remainder of his or her life with physical and emotional scars.

With technology, it is possible to use computer-modeling techniques to show insurance companies how the scarred a child will look as an adult. This type of evidence is helpful to guide potential compensation in a claim for pain and suffering damages.

The most important goal is to prevent the attack in the first place. Children should not be left alone with a dog. Young children and toddlers should be taught to be careful and responsible around pets -- this includes learning not approaching strange dogs. Also, people should always ask permission from the dog owner before petting their animal.

Source: ABC 6, "Ohio #4 in State Farm Dog Bite Claims," Kellie Hanna, May 16, 2012

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