Dogs are one of the most common pets forming part of American households. The more dogs make their way into neighborhoods, the more sheer numbers work to increase the potential for dog bites and the resulting liability claims. That is exactly what seems to be happening in New Jersey and other states.

Personal finance company, NerdWallet, estimates that 885,000 Americans get bitten by a pet each year. Dog bites are also the most common claim homeowners make on their liability insurance. In 2013, homeowners filed 2.6% more claims than in 2003 at a total of 17,359  for that year. During this time, the cost per claim and the overall dollar value increased by 45.4% and 49.4%, respectively.

Many property owners are grateful for their home insurance when dog bites become an issue. However, it is important to note that some companies may exclude certain breeds. This is especially the case if the dog breed is illegal in that municipality or state. This is a dangerous scenario as, without protection, homeowners may face tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for medical expenses and legal fees.

CNBC provides even more updated figures to illustrate the rising cost of dog bites. These figures show a 93.4% increase in money paid out for claims in 2017 versus 2003. The 18,522 incidents reported in 2017 also show an increase of 9.5% from where figures stood in 2003. In fact, New Jersey ranked at number nine when it came to the number of claims and the average cost per claim for every U.S. state.

Owning a dog is a big responsibility and is not without risks. Even the most friendly and docile dogs may resort to biting if they feel cornered or believe their owner’s life is in danger. There are also incidents of blatant negligence where aggressive dogs are allowed to roam free in the neighborhood or get taken on walks without leashes. Whatever the situation that victims find themselves in, they may be able to seek compensation for their injuries.