Dog Bite Injury Statistics in the United States

Find out how many people a year are bitten by dogs or die from injuries, which breed is most likely to bite, and other dog bite statistics.

Dogs are often considered a human’s best friend. Unfortunately, not all dogs are as friendly as your family dog.

Dog bites can cause substantial damage to human skin and soft tissues because dogs have very powerful teeth and jaws. Dog bite injuries can crush or tear muscles and skin or even damage organs.

In this article, we will review some statistics regarding how many people are injured by dog bites and how dog bite victims can receive compensation for their injuries.

Notable Dog Bite Statistics

  • Approximately 4.5 million people a year are bitten by dogs in the United States.
  • In 2018, there were 38 dog bite-related fatalities in the country.
  • The pit bull is the breed responsible for the most dog bites and the most serious injuries.
  • In 2019, homeowners liability claims involving dog bites cost insurers $797 million.

Number of Dog Bite Injuries

ER visits from dog bites increased 12% from 2008 - 2014

About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, according to the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

While many dog bites do not require medical attention, AHRQ reports that in 2008, about 316,200 emergency room visits and 9,500 hospital stays involved serious injuries from dog attacks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of people who required hospital emergency department medical care for nonfatal dog bite injuries increased to 353,954 in 2014, which is the most recent year for which such dog bite statistics are available.

Between 2008 and 2014, the number of dog bite incidents requiring emergency room treatment increased by twelve percent.

Dog Bite-Related Fatalities

The National Canine Research Council (NCRC) reported 38 verified dog bite-related fatalities in the year 2018. These fatal dog bite injuries occurred within a human population of over 325 million people and an estimated dog population of over 75 million.

NCRC also conducted an analysis of dog bite statistics reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association regarding fatal dog attacks between 2000 and 2015. In reviewing these dog bite victims’ cases, NCRC identified several controllable factors that were involved in these incidents.

Factors found to contribute to dog bite-related fatalities:

Factors contributing to dog bites

Dog Bite Fatality Statistics vs. Other Accidental Deaths

Compared to other accidental causes of death, the incidence of dog-bite related fatalities is quite low. NCRC compared various causes of injury fatalities in 2018, and compiled statistics regarding these causes of death.

Less than .003% of fatalities are caused by dog attacks

Some types of injury fatalities in 2018:

  • 62,399 were killed by unintentional poisonings
  • 37,991 were killed in unintentional traffic accidents
  • 37,455 were killed by unintentional falls
  • 18,830 were killed by homicide
  • 3,710 were killed by unintentional drowning
  • 1,738 were killed by child abuse and neglect
  • 976 were killed in unintentional pedestrian accidents
  • 38 were killed by dog bite-related injuries

Dog Bite Statistics By Breed

There is a statistical correlation between the type of dog and the incidence of dog bites, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

The study found that the following breeds of dogs are the most and least likely to bite children:

Dog breeds likely to bite children

The study also concluded that mixed breed dogs and pit bulls also caused the highest average damage per bite.

Dogsbite.org conducted a literature review of 14 peer-reviewed retrospective Level 1 trauma center studies of dog bite injuries across major U.S. geographical regions.

A common conclusion in these studies was that, of all the different breeds of dogs, pit bull terriers were responsible for the most dog bite attacks and mauling injuries, and caused the most severe injuries. Dog bite statistics like these have caused some states and localities to create breed-specific legislation across the country.

Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

People who are the victims of dog bite-related injuries are generally entitled to compensation from the dog owner. Reimbursement of medical expenses can be obtained through insurance companies or legal action.

Dog Bite Insurance Liability Claims

The dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy will typically cover expenses for dog bite-related injuries up to the liability limit of the policy. This amount is usually between $100,000 to $300,000.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners liability claims involving dog bites and other dog-related injuries totaled $797 million in 2019.

Additionally, the number of dog bite injury claims across the country rose to 17,802 from 17,297 in 2018, and the average cost per claim increased by 14.7%. The average cost paid out for dog bite liability claims was $44,760, rising from $39,017 in 2018.

Dog bite insurance liability claims stats

In fact, the average cost per claim has increased 134% between 2003 to 2019 due to the increased cost of medical care and hospitalizations, as well as the growing size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs.

Dog Bite Personal Injury Cases in Court

According to the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the most recent year where national trials statistics were compiled (2005), 138 personal injury cases across the country involving dog bites or other animal bites were tried. These cases amounted to only 0.5% of all cases tried that year.

The victim won in 125 of these animal attack cases (75.2%), with a median final award amount of $21,000. Seventy percent of the victims who received damages in these cases were awarded $50,000 or less.

Twenty-three of these winning victims requested that the dog owner be ordered to pay punitive damages, which are meant to punish the dog owner for egregious behavior. However, none of these requests were granted, and no punitive damages were assessed in 2005 animal attack cases.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, you should contact a local personal injury attorney to schedule a free consultation.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>