Maryland Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Dog bites can produce significant medical expenses, painful and disfiguring injuries, and can limit your ability to work and live a normal life. It’s estimated that 70-80 million dogs are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog. (Source: APPA)
The most recent USA survey of dog bites conducted by CDC researchers concluded that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year (1.5% of the entire population). Sacks JJ, Kresnow M. Dog bites: still a problem? Injury Prevention 2008 Oct;14(5):296-301.
4.5 million bites per year — almost one out of every 5 — are serious enough to require medical attention. (Centers for Disease Control, Preventing Dog Bites, accessed May 15, 2015.)
Although most people love and respect dogs, this should never be a reason to NOT pursue monetary compensation for such injuries. As is demonstrated by Maryland’s always-evolving dog bite laws, injuries from dog bites are quite common. As we speak, laws are being added and amended to assure that innocent victims of dog injuries are able to collect money for their suffering. Nevertheless, not all dog bite cases result in monetary compensation.
Can I Collect for My Dog Bite Injuries?
The answer is “yes” IF the dog owner is liable under current Maryland law. However, the laws are complex, location-specific, and are constantly evolving. Sometimes the owner is not liable unless there is proof that his or dog has previously bitten another person. This is sometimes referred to as the “One bite rule.” Recent changes in Maryland laws now impose strict liability unless the owner can prove that he neither knew nor should have known that the dog was vicious or was dangerous. Recent changes also provide that pure breed pit bulls are automatically considered to be dangerous animals.
So what is a dangerous dog?
MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-619 defines a “Dangerous dog” (a) “a dog that:(i) without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person; or (ii) is determined by the appropriate unit of a county or municipal corporation under subsection (c) of this section to be a potentially dangerous dog and, after the determination is made: 1. bites a person; 2. when not on its owner’s real property, kills or inflicts severe injury on a domestic animal; or 3. attacks without provocation.
Dog owners can also be liable for injuries if the Court finds that they were negligent towards the person injured. Negligence can arise from the violation of an existing law, such as a leash law, that was intended to protect the person injured. The injured person must prove that the dog’s owner had a duty to use reasonable care and failed to do so. A good example would be where a dog owner failed to secure his dog on a leash allowing the dog to run at large in violation of a leash law and the dog injured a person.
What can a person who was injured by a dog claim? They can make a claim for economic loses including; medical bills, loss of income from employment, and damage to their property. They can also collect for; the physical pain they endured, scaring and disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of future earnings, and the impact on their marriage.
Many dog owners, who own their homes, are protected by their homeowner’s insurance for claims resulting from an injury caused by a dog.
Should you bring a dog bite case to court in Maryland you should be aware that you will bear the burden of proof and that Maryland has adopted “contributory negligence”. Contributory negligence provides that a party bringing suit who is responsible 1/10 or less of a percent for the injuries suffered cannot receive any compensation. As you can imagine this can result in some very harsh results for the plaintiff.
Even if your case does not make it to court contributory negligence can influence the settlement negotiations with an insurance carrier or other individual.
What Should You Do If a Dog Bites You?
Obtain the dog’s name, the owner’s name, address, and phone number. Also try to get any information you can about whether or not the dog has had its rabies shots.
Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses.
Get whatever medical treatment you need. Keep track of where you go for medical treatment and the costs involved.
Report your bite to the animal control authorities. This is important if the dog did not have a dog tag or license as the animal control authorities can either pick up the dog and hold it for a period of time or have the owner produce the dog’s medical records so that you do not have to go through rabies shots needlessly.
Learn More About Your Case
Regardless of the circumstances of your case, you should contact Attorney Raymond Carignan to determine if your case warrants financial compensation. Mr. Carignan follows Maryland’s dog bite laws closely, will assess your case, and will advise you about what you should and should not do next. I do not charge to meet with you and discuss your claim.