I saw a piece in the news recently which stated that according to the Insurance Information Institute, for the 2008 calendar, costs for dog bite claims were up 8% over the previous year, totaling $387 million, with an average of $24,461 per claim.One factor that they attributed the increase in claim costs to was the rapid rise of medical costs. This does not seem accurate to me as an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer. In almost every dog bite case I have handled, the medical expenses were usually fairly low — most often consisting of a trip to the emergency room and a few follow up appointments. Plastic surgery for scar revision is normally done in a plastic surgeon’s office, so even for the clients who have had that happen, the medical expenses have not been as large as is normally the case in many of my other cases.For my clients, the true cost of the claim is disfigurement resulting from the scarring from the dog bite. We usually advise clients to take serial photos of the dog bite injury while healing is ongoing to document the truly slow progression of the healing from the dog bites. Also, we do not even consider settling a case until the healing is complete — a process that takes 6 months to a year.When you wait the true amount of time it takes for healing to be complete, you are left with the true result of the dog bite — often scars that last a lifetime. Many people settle dog bite claims early on, before the healing is complete, with a notion that they will eventually look the same as they did the day before the were attacked by the dog. This almost never happens.In truth, that average settlement number should be much higher. I suspect it isn’t because people accept cheap and early settlements from insurers too often.