Injuries from dog bites requiring hospitalizations are skyrocketing, according to a new study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The research covered the period from 1993 through 2008, and found an 86 percent jump in the number of serious dog bite cases over the 15-year period — from 5,100 hospitalizations in 1993 to 9,500 in 2008.
The analysis also found that injuries to children between 5 and 9 and to seniors were the mostly likely to be serious enough to require hospitalization. Also, people living in rural areas were four times more likely to make an emergency room visit related to a dog bite than those who lived in urban areas.
Nearly half of those hospitalized required treatment for skin infections. Fifty-eight percent needed a medical procedure, such as stitches, a skin graft or a wound debridement (the removal of unhealthy tissue from a wound to promote healing).
On a daily basis in the United States, an average of 866 people go to a hospital emergency room to be treated for a dog bite or animal injury. An average of 26 require admission to the hospital for those injuries, based on the agency’s 2008 data.
The agency also found that the average cost of a hospitalization for a dog bite is $18,200. Injuries from an attack by another party’s dog or domestic animal is generally covered by homeowners insurance under the law of premises liability, although not all dog owners have homeowners insurance, and not all policies cover dog and domestic animal bites. When insurance coverage isn’t available or the coverage limits are too low to compensate the victim fully, the victim can also file a premises liability claim.
Each year, around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, but most of those bites are not serious enough to require hospitalization or retain a personal injury lawyer in Boynton Beach.