Dog Bite Lawyers
About 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the U.S. Dog bites can be expensive, often costing the victim around $18,000 or more.
Dog bite cases in Maryland depend on liability, in other words, determining which party is at fault in a dog bite incident: the dog owner or the victim of the dog bite. Certain factors contribute to liability, such as whether or not a dog has bit anyone before, where the dog bite took place (on private or public property), whether or not the person who sustained the dog bite was trespassing, and whether or not the person was provoking the dog.
Because of Maryland’s law of contributory negligence, a dog bite victim who is partly at fault cannot recover any damages (monetary compensation from the dog owner). Additionally, in Maryland, a dog bite victim must bring their claim within three years.
- Of around 4.5 million people bitten by dogs every year in the U.S., at least 1 million seek medical help.
- Over 28,000 people had reconstructive surgery for dog bites in 2015.
- Children account for over half of all dog bite victims.
- Approximately 60% of dog bites occur in the home.
- In 2016, dog bites and dog-related injuries made up over one third of all dollars paid in homeowners’ insurance liability claims, and cost over $600 million total.
- Dogs attacked more than 6,750 U.S. postal workers in 2016: up 200 from the previous year. The most attacks (80) occurred in Los Angeles.
- In the U.S., a dog bite occurs every 75 seconds. More than 1000 people require emergency medical treatment for dog bites every day.
Maryland dog bite law
In 2012, Maryland passed a new law attaching stricter liability to owners of pit bulls, stating that this dog breed is inherently dangerous. This ruling stipulated that owners of pit bulls should expect their dogs to bite and therefore take appropriate precautions.
However, a more recent law passed in 2014, overrides this previous ruling. Now, no matter the breed of the dog, dog owners should act under the assumption that their dog may bite. However, dog owners may override this law if they can prove that a reasonable owner would not expect the dog in question to cause harm to anyone.
Many factors determine who is at fault in a dog bite incident. As a dog bite victim, your case will be stronger if the dog has attacked people before, or if the dog has shown menacing behavior like growling and lunging, in which case the owner should have known that the dog was a potential danger.
Your case will also be stronger if the dog owner failed to effectively control his or her dog in a potentially dangerous situation. For example, a dog that runs into the street to chase a bike may cause an accident and inflict injury. In this case, the dog owner is at fault because he or she should have kept the dog fenced in or on a leash.
In some dog bite cases, the law of strict liability comes into play. Under strict liability, the dog owner is held responsible for the dog bite even if he or she used reasonable care to prevent the incident, and even if the victim of the dog bite is partly to blame. For instance, if a dog is loose and “running at large” when it bites someone, then the owner is liable.
In other cases, the court may determine that the dog bite victim is partly at fault (the law of contributory negligence). For instance, someone who provokes, teases, or abuses a dog must expect that the dog will attack. Additionally, someone trespassing or committing a crime cannot fault the dog owner for an attack. However, a child under five years old is exempt from any fault in a dog bite case.
Similarly, someone who assumes a risk (the law of assumption of risk) – for example, ignoring a sign stating that a dog guard is on duty – may be found partly at fault in a dog bite case.
If you can prove that the fault for a dog bite rests with the dog owner, then you may be able to recover damages from the owner, or, as is more often the case, from their insurance provider.
As in any other personal injury case, a victim of a dog bite can recover damages based on monetary losses related to the injury. An at-fault dog owner is required to compensate the victim for medical bills related to the dog bite: such as emergency care or reconstructive surgery, lost wages or income, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
What To Do After A Dog Bite
Finally, as you work closely with your personal injury lawyer, you can help him or her construct a compelling case on your behalf. We urge you not to give up hope after you have suffered serious injuries, but rather, discuss your case with a lawyer who can help you recover compensation from negligent parties. The negligent or liable party in your case may be a property owner or dog owner.
Contact an Experienced Salisbury Dog Bite Attorney
Otway Russo, P.C., provides helpful, effective legal services for people in and around the Delmarva Peninsula and the Eastern Shore of Maryland who have suffered serious injuries caused by dog bites. Good legal counsel helps our clients understand their rights.
If you were bitten by a dog in Maryland, we can offer a free consultation at which time we will explain how we can help. No matter where you are in terms of medical recovery, we can take steps to help you maximize your recovery of compensation. If the animal attack just happened, we can help gather evidence. If you were attacked a few days or a week ago, you may benefit from our ability to communicate well with health care providers. If you have gone home from the hospital, we can assess whether psychological counseling might help you cope with depression due to facial scarring.