Determining Negligence in Catastrophic Dog Bite Cases in Maryland

Negligence plays an important role in determining damages and potential compensation in a catastrophic dog bite injury cases. To effectively build a case examining the role that contributory or comparative negligence played in your catastrophic dog bite case, it is important that you contact an experienced catastrophic dog bite injury attorney immediately.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense available to the owner of a dog in catastrophic dog bite injury cases. The defendant is allowed to present evidence that the victim caused or contributed to their injuries. In Maryland, if the plaintiff is found to be contributorily negligent, they are barred from recovery.

The nature and extent of a person’s injuries are not considered as part of a contributory negligence evaluation. Contributory negligence deals with who was at fault for the incident. Often, the defense will move to bar the claim as a matter of law before any information regarding damages is presented.

Disproving Contributory Negligence

The defense of contributory negligence depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. It is typically raised when the victim is a small child that may have inadvertently or out of curiosity frightened or provoked a dog, which led to a catastrophic dog bite injury. Although, the law holds that children under a certain age cannot be contributory negligent.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the legal standard followed by the majority of the country. In comparative negligence jurisdictions, the judge or jury is allowed to evaluate the amount of negligence designated to either the plaintiff or defendant and the damage award is reduced by the percentage of negligence that is designated to the victim. In a comparative negligence jurisdiction, if the fact finder found both the plaintiff and defendant equally negligent, any award of damages would be reduced by half.

In a contributory negligence jurisdiction, such as Maryland and its surrounding jurisdictions of Virginia and the District of Columbia, if the victim is 1% at fault, they cannot recover. It is an all or nothing proposition in a contributory negligence jurisdiction.

Caps on Compensation

There is generally a correlation between the nature and extent of the injury sustained in a catastrophic dog bite case to the amount of damages that are awarded.

There are statutory caps on damages in Maryland. The statutory cap in Maryland is a sliding scale. A trained injury attorney will be able to evaluate the case and advise the victim of any applicable caps. The cap on noneconomic damages is controversial because it limits the amount one can recover particularly in cases. A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to advise the victim of a catastrophic dog bite injury of how a cap may affect their claim.

Working with an Attorney

An attorney can evaluate a claim and determine whether the defense of contributory negligence is likely to be made. Once that information is obtained, the attorney can guide the injured person through the claim process to maximize the recovery as best as possible.