With National Dog Bite Prevention Week upcoming on May 15-21, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has released a statement concerning the costs that result from dog bites based on an analysis of homeowners insurance data. I.I.I. statistics show that from 2009 to 2010, the average cost of dog bite claims rose from $24,840 to $26,166, up 5.3 percent, although the number of claims dropped 4.9 percent from 2009 to 2010 ($16,586 vs. $15,770). The decline in the number of claims was almost exactly offset by an increase in the average cost. Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2010, costing nearly $413 million, according to I.I.I. A December 2010 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that children under five and adults 65 and older were more likely to be hospitalized after a bite. Nearly 50 percent of those hospitalized required treatment for skin and tissue infections and more than half received such procedures as skin grafts or wound debridement, with treatment costing an average of $18,200 per patient. National Dog Bite Prevention Week is an annual event designed to provide consumers with information on how to be responsible pet owners while increasing awareness of a serious public health issue. To reduce the chances of a dog biting someone, I.I.I. recommends the following steps: Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood. Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children. Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog. Has your dog been spayed or neutered? Studies show that dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are NOT neutered. Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other people and animals. Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping. Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as go fetch. Playing aggressive games like tug-of-war can encourage inappropriate behavior. Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response. Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening. Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors. If you or someone close to you has been attacked by a dog or injured in an accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and surrounding areas. To learn more, watch our videos.