The city of Baltimore has paid about $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits claiming that police officers brazenly beat up alleged suspects. One hidden cost: The perception that officers are violent can poison the relationship between residents and police.
I have recently received a good bit of heated interest in my last two posts (here and here) on the Maryland Court of Appeals opinion in Tracey v. Solesky, in which the court held that in dog bite cases involving a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull mix, plaintiff no longer needs to prove that the dog in particular, or pit bulls, in general, are dangerous.
There is no question that dog bite claims make up their fair share of serious personal injury claims. Here are some statistics:
The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year. State Farm, the insurance company in Solesky, paid more than $109 million on about 3,800 dog bite claims nationwide in 2011. In 2010, State Farm had approximately 3,500 claims and $90 million in payouts.
The Insurance Information Institute estimated that nearly $479 million in dog bite claims were paid by all insurance companies in 2011, spokeswoman Loretta Worters said. In 2010, it was $413 million.
The CDC says that dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people each year. Over half of the victims are children. Most of these bites are not serious. But approximately 800,000 people seek medical attention for the bites each year. Sixteen people a year die from dog bites. It has to be said: most of thesedog bite lawsuit statistics are from pit bulls. Still, at least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the last 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered.
The median (not average) dog bite verdict in Maryland over the last 23 years is $24,600.
At particular risk for dog bites are (1) children ages 5 to 9 years old, (2) seniors, and (3) postmen. Children are the biggest risk. Kids are 900 times more likely to be attacked than a letter carrier.
State Farm’s average cost per dog bite nationally in 2011 was $28,799.
When Susan Hayes, 29, skidded off the road into a drainage ditch in June, the air bag in her Mazda Miata slammed into her head and broke her neck.
The 5-foot-2-inch Baltimore woman spent six weeks in a coma and eight weeks in intensive care. She says she was wearing a seat belt in the crash.
“Without the air bag, I would have walked away,” she said last week. Her 4-year-old son was belted in the front passenger seat — which did not have an air bag — and did walk away.
While the risk that air bags pose to children has attracted national attention, that danger has overshadowed the fact that bags also can injure and kill adults, particularly short women.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned for some time that women, especially those over 70 who may be frail, are among the adults most at risk of being killed by air bags.
But younger adults also face a serious risk of being injured or killed by explosively powerful air bags, a review of federal safety records indicates.
The analysis shows that of 19 adults whose deaths were blamed on air bags, 12 were under age 57. Fifteen of the adults who died were female drivers who sat close to the steering wheel so they could reach the pedals. All were 5 feet 4 inches tall or shorter.
Some men may be at risk, too. Three male drivers between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet tall were killed by bags. One may have died because his overweight frame left him too close to the air bag. A heart attack and a seizure may have caused two others to slump into deploying air bags.
The toll of death and injuries is probably much higher, automakers and safety officials fear.
No one is tracking injuries caused by bags. And deaths of adults from air bags are likely to have been underreported, partly because the NHTSA has focused for more than a year on reducing the deaths of children from air bags.