Animals, domesticated or not, are instinctual creatures that must share the world with humans. While this can be done harmoniously, such as in the relationship between owners and their pets, it creates the ever-present potential for conflict and encroachment – two factors experts point to as major contributors behind rising rates of animal-related injuries.
According to a recent study published in the BMJ medical journal, humans are steadily suffering more injuries as a result of animal attacks. Those injuries, which can be painful and debilitating, are also tremendously costly.
The study, which analyzed roughly a fifth of all emergency departments at U.S. hospitals between 2010 and 2014, revealed some shocking statistics:
- Animal attack injuries account for over $1 billion in health care costs per year in America, with dog bite injuries being the most costly, in terms of medical expenses and other damages.
- Between 2010 and 2014, emergency departments admitted over 6 million patients for animal-related injuries – equal to nearly 1.3 million people annually, and roughly 19 out of over 10,000 visits.
- Bites from non-venomous arthropods, the group of invertebrate animals and insects that includes spiders, spiders, ticks, mosquitos, and centipedes were the most common animal-related injury presented by patients at ER departments, accounting for just over 40% of all animal injuries.
- Dog bites were the second-leading cause, accounting for over a quarter or injuries. Stings and bites from bees, wasps, and hornets were the third most common animal-related injury, affected 13% of patients.
- While patients in the study suffered a range of injuries, there were a limited number of deaths (.02% of all ER visits). Non-venomous arthropods caused the most deaths overall all, but rat bites had the highest rate of causing death, followed by bites from venomous lizards and snakes, and dogs.
In addition to these findings, researchers also noted that animal attacks are happening more often, with the rate of all animal attacks increasing steadily over the past 10 years. They’re also expected to rise. According to experts, there are a few causes behind the trend:
- Climate change – Rising temperatures that accompany climate change means the natural habitat for some creatures will expand, allowing them to live in more places, including places with more humans. That’s true for arthropods, which cause nearly half of all animal-related injuries.
- Human development – As humans continue to develop the natural habitats of animals, including larger animals like bears, the risks for animal-related attacks increase. Those risks increase not only for humans who engage in recreational outdoor activities where such dangers are reasonably expected, but also those who live on newly developed land or areas where animals retreat after their habitats shrink.
- Public health prevention – One of the most interesting findings noted by researchers was that patients with the lowest incomes, and those most likely to live under poor housing conditions, were most affected by animal-related injuries, including injuries with the most severe consequences. This suggests a need for better public health prevention policies.
Your Rights After an Animal Attack: Seeking Compensation
The study is an important one, and, in addition to prompting needed change, shows just how costly animal bites can be – with victims facing substantial medical bills, the need for rehabilitation, lost wages, and other physical, financial, and psychological damages that can quickly pile up.
It also sends an important reminder to Americans that you don’t need to live in the mountains in order to suffer animal-related injuries. In fact, many personal injury cases filed over animal attacks involve injures to victims who weren’t placing themselves in overt danger. Instead, they involve the negligence and failures of animal owners, property owners, businesses, and others responsible for controlling their pets, properties, or animals, and keeping others safe from preventable harm.
Our legal team at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. handles all types of animal attack cases, from dog bite injuries and animal or insect bites caused by unsanitary or hazardous conditions to attacks at local businesses that use animals and infestations caused by negligent premises owners. Backed by decades of collective experience and the insight of Board Certified Specialists, our firm can help you pursue the financial recovery you deserve.
If you have questions about a potential case, your rights in the civil justice system, and how our award-winning New Jersey personal injury lawyers can fight for you, contact us online or call (732) 440-3089 for a free case review. Our firm serves clients throughout the state from multiple office locations.