By Tony Lopez


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A spike in the number of dog bites has some dog lovers on edge, and they can lead to ugly consequences.

On Tuesday evening a woman was attacked inside her Modesto home by four pit bulls. A relative arrived at the home and was also attacked. Police would end up killing all four dogs.

The two victims were in critical condition.

Images from another incident show a deep wound caused by a dog that look like something out of a car accident.

Sacramento-based attorney Mosley Collins has been representing dog-bite victims for years, accounting for 10 to 20 percent of his business.

Collins and insurance companies agree that there have been an uptick in dog bites. The Insurance Information Institute says dog bites are up five percent nationwide from last year, and California leads the country.

Insurance companies in the state paid out $65 million in dog bite claims in 2013, with an average payout of $33,700.

It’s a claim that tends to be settled quickly, because California has what’s called strict liability.

“If your dog bites someone, and they’re somewhere where they can be lawfully then you’re strictly liable for the injury your dog causes,” Collins said. “You can’t say, ‘Well i warned them, I told them this, I told them that’—if your dog bites someone, unless they’re like breaking into your house, then you’re gonna be responsible. You’re gonna have to pay.”

And most often, you’re paying someone you know, because most dog bite victims, experts say, are family or friends. And 50 percent of the victims are children under 10.

“The last call I got was a 4-year-old boy who was in the backyard and he was near a dog, and this was a pit bull, and I would have to say, although it’s gonna irritate people–but i would have to say most of the dog bite calls I get are pit bulls biting children,” Collins said.

Some homeowners insurance companies refused coverage for dog bites if your dog is a certain breed.

Now what if you were dog-sitting and there’s a biting incident. Could you be held responsible?

Maybe.

“The dog sitter would be responsible if they were negligent,” he said.

Or if they know the dog had bitten someone in the past, and it only takes one bite to get someone in trouble.

“Some states have one-free bite rule,” Collins said. “We don’t have a one free bite rule in california..the first time a dog bites someone you’re responsible and you’re liable.”

And that’s the bottom line.

“The owner is always ultimately responsible,” he said.

Making the responsibility of owning a dog that much greater.

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