State Farm: Georgia 9th in dog bite paid claims

State Farm said Wednesday it paid out more than $108 million in dog-bite claims last year, with Georgia ranking No. 9 among states reporting the highest number of paid claims.

The insurer’s total payout accounted for 22 percent of the $489 million in claims paid by insurers across the country, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

More than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many attacks are fatal. A College Park 2-year-old was killed by a family pet April 24 after his mother left the child with the mixed-breed American Staffordshire terrier while she went to the bathroom, authorities said. A few weeks earlier, a 21-month old in Ellabell, Ga., was mauled to death by the family’s seven dogs.

Dog bites were the ninth-leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injury to children ages 5 to 9 between 2001 and 2011 and 10th-leading cause for children ages 10 to 14, according to the nonprofit group Prevent the Bite.

The U.S. Postal Service reported 5,900 letter carriers were attacked by dogs last year, with Los Angeles leading in reports among major cities.

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State Farm reported it paid $3.3 million for 121 dog-bite claims last year in Georgia. The highest number of paid claims were submitted in California, where the insurer paid out $17.1 million to cover 451 claims.

Following California, the states with the most State Farm paid claims were Illinois (337), Texas (236), Ohio (235), Pennsylvania (165), Michigan (151), Indiana (148), Florida (123) and New York (116).

Overall, State Farm paid 3,670 dog bite claims last year, down from 3,750 the year before. The payout last year was also a million dollars less than the $109 million paid in 2011.

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