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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the number of dog bites estimated at more than 4.5 million a year, who is responsible if your dog bites someone?

While dog bite liability depends on state law, in most states the owner of the dog is legally liable to a victim who was bitten even if the dog had never bitten anyone in the past and the owner had no reason to believe it was dangerous.

A dog bite victim can sue for the cost of medical treatment, psychological counseling, missed work, or damage to clothes. There are now lawyers who specifically advertise their services to dog bite victims. Many – but not all – homeowner policies cover dog bites, and some exclude some breeds of dogs from their coverage so before your next trip with Fido to the park, pull out and read your homeowners policy to make sure a lack of coverage doesn’t come back to bite you.

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