Maryland Dog Bite Lawyer

Contact a Maryland dog bite lawyer if you have sustained a personal injury due to a violent encounter with a dog.  Depending on the circumstances, you may have a viable injury claim, which can lead to monetary compensation and other repercussions for the owner of the animal.

Dog bites can be extremely dangerous, and they are not uncommon. About 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year in the U.S., according to a 2012 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. If you or your child have been bitten by a dog, a Maryland dog bite lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible to recover compensation from the dog owner for your injuries and other costs.

Being a dog owner comes with a multitude of responsibilities related to the care and protection of one’s animals. That responsibility also extends to others who come into contact with the dog, and preventing the dog from injuring them in an attack. Dog bite injuries can lead to serious health complications, resulting in expensive medical bills and extensive treatment. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury as the result of a dog attack, a Maryland dog bite lawyer can help you hold the dog owner accountable for their pet’s dangerous behavior.

Understanding the Maryland Dog Bite Injury Law

 

Many states have very strict dog bite laws and Maryland is no exception. Dog owners have a responsibility to the public to make sure their dog is not a hazard in the community. The circumstances surrounding the dog bite incident do matter, as liability may be found under two different legal theories: strict liability and negligence.

First, the court will consider whether the dog owner was aware that the dog had a dangerous propensity. In Maryland, a dog owner can become “strictly liable” for any personal injuries their dog causes under a law occasionally referred to as the “one-bite rule.” Under this rule, once a dog has bitten someone – however long ago – the dog is classified as a “potentially dangerous dog” under Maryland Code 10-619. Dogs with a history of unprovoked attacks on other animals could also be classified as “potentially dangerous” by the government. If a “potentially dangerous dog” causes another injury, the dog owner should have known to exercise additional caution, and he or she can be held strictly liable.

Alternatively, if strict liability does not apply, a dog owner may still be responsible for the acts of his or her animals under the legal theory of negligence. A dog owner whose dog has never bitten anyone can still be held liable for your injuries, if your Maryland dog bite attorney can establish that the dog owner acted negligently in supervising or controlling his dog. If the dog owner neglected or abused the dog or trained it to fight or behave aggressively, he could be held liable the first time the dog bites someone.

Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

Maryland does not have a law that creates civil penalties for dog bites, so litigation for this type of personal injury is handled under Maryland’s common law of negligence. To receive compensation for injuries sustained from a dog bite, the plaintiff must prove that the owner’s lack of reasonable care is what led to the attack (although there is a rebuttal presumption of damaging proponents if proven the dog caused the injury – see above). The same rules apply to other dog-related injuries, such as harm suffered in a fall when a large breed of dog knocks someone over.

For an injured party to collect damages as a result of being bitten by a dog, the person must prove that the owner of the dog, or the individual who had custody of the animal, was negligent. In order for a Maryland dog bite lawyer to prove negligence, four elements must be present in the case:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages

For example, if the owner invited the plaintiff onto the premises then they had a duty to protect the individual from the animal. By failing to control the dog, the owner breached that responsibility. As a result of the breach, the plaintiff suffered injury when bitten by the dog. However, if the dog bite occurred on the owner’s property and the victim did not have permission to be on the grounds, then they may not be able to recover for injuries. Other factors such as contributory negligence can make the case more complex. Case in point, a person who is invited onto the premises by the owner but teases the dog or goes into a fenced area intentionally may not be able to claim damages. If you have been bitten by someone else’s dog, consult with a dog bite injury attorney to find out if you have a legitimate claim against the dog owner.

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Lawsuits in Maryland

Under Maryland’s personal injury law, you have up to three years to file a lawsuit after suffering a dog bite. The time starts running on the day the injury occurs. If you fail to bring action within the court system by the deadline, you will probably be prohibited from filing a lawsuit and recovering compensation.

Dog bites can cause painful, debilitating, and disfiguring injuries, which can limit your ability to work and live a normal life, and can also lead to significant medical costs. Many people who are dog lovers have some apprehension about pursuing monetary compensation for their injuries. However, your love and admiration of dogs should not override your responsibility to yourself and your family. If you or someone in your home has been injured by a dog bite, you should immediately contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and find out what your options are for recovering damages for your injuries.

How a Maryland Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help

You may be able to collect damages to cover medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses you incurred as a result of the attack. In some cases, you may be able to recover non-economic damages as well, including for harms and losses suffered.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from a dog bite, contact the skilled team of personal injury attorneys at our law firm to learn about current laws and find out if you have a valid claim against the dog owner. Call us today for a free case evaluation.