There are at least 4.7 million dog bites every year in the US, a figure that is likely higher since many cases probably go unreported. From that total, fortunately only about 800,000 victims receive medical attention annually. Many of the more seriously injured victims often don’t receive compensation due to the fact that they’re bitten when the owner isn’t present and cannot be identified. There is cause for added concern because many dangerous dogs can be found wandering the streets.

Those that are held accountable for the actions of their pets will need dangerous dog insurance or another form of dog bite coverage if they are named in a lawsuit. The liability segment of the insurance industry only pays an average of 17,500 dog bite victims per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. It is approximated that payments are made to only 2% of victims who wind up going to see a doctor for injuries resulting from dog bites.

Additional insurance for dog owners makes sense

In the event that you are sued you may find yourself worrying about whether or not you have bought enough insurance coverage to pay for any claims. You must understand that the $100,000 limit found in most homeowner policies is usually enough for most settlements, but If the injuries are substantial, this amount may not actually be enough. If that is the case, you’ll want to have an umbrella policy or excess policy in place. Umbrella and excess policies generally provide $1 million of coverage for about $100 per year.

Keep aggressive or dangerous dogs on a leash

For owners of dogs that show signs of aggression you really need to keep the dog away from people, especially small children. A leash, or muzzling your pet when it is around people is advised, as well as strictly following all animal control laws (anti-trespassing laws) that apply to dogs and their owners. Owners of dogs deemed “dangerous breeds” have a difficult defense when the animal attacks someone.

There are measures you can take long before a situation escalates. First, be extremely sympathetic to the dog bite victim (and their family), and show concern without necessarily accepting blame. Offering to pay for any medical services that may be required can certainly defuse the situation. Hopefully they’ll see you as someone caring and may decide not to take you to court, but make sure to have dangerous dog insurance to deal with any instances where your dog behaves badly.