Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers
Maryland Dog Bite Injury Claims
Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. At least one in five dog bite victims have injuries that are serious enough to require medical attention. Sadly, at least half of these are children. There are many circumstances that can lead a dog to bite, but when proper safety precautions are taken, nearly all bites are avoidable. It is also important to understand that all dogs, regardless of their size or breed, are capable of inflicting serious harm to those they bite. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Disease transmission
- Emotional trauma
- Facial injuries
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Permanent nerve damage
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severed limbs
Dog bite injuries go beyond the initial pain and shock a person experiences when they have been bitten. Victims can face a lifetime of physical, psychological and emotional problems following an attack. Treatment may involve multiple reconstructive surgeries and intensive therapy, resulting in costly medical bills and time away from work. This can put a significant financial burden on families. Fortunately, dog bite victims in Maryland may be able to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner.
Maryland Dog Bite Liability
Dog owners may be held liable for injuries inflicted by their dog under Maryland’s strict liability rule. Under this rule, the owner of a dog that is running at large is responsible for personal injury or death stemming from the dog’s aggressive behavior. The victim need not prove any negligence on the part of the dog’s owner – only that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity to bite. The “one-bite rule,” which required a victim to prove that the dog had a history of biting, is no longer applicable. Moreover, in most cases, evidence that the dog caused the injury creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities.
In the absence of a strict liability case, victims may still be able to recover compensation under Maryland’s common law theory of negligence. Similar to any other negligence claim, the victim must show that the dog owner acted unreasonably, such as failing to take standard safety precautions or give adequate warning. Second, the victim must show that the dog owner’s carelessness was the cause of the dog bite injury.
The statute of limitations in Maryland civil liability cases is three years. That means the victim must file a claim against the person responsible for the injury within three years from the date the attack occurred. If the injured person misses this critical deadline, he or she may be barred from ever filing a claim.
Defenses to Dog Bite Liability
Dog bite victims are generally barred from recovering damages if the bite happened while he or she was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against the dog owner’s property or any other person. Similarly, if the person was teasing, tormenting, abusing or provoking the dog before it attacked, there will be no valid claim against the dog owner.
Unfortunately, Maryland is one of only a few states that still apply the harsh rule of contributory negligence. Under this rule, the victim may be barred from recovering damages from the dog owner if he or she was even slightly negligent. Because this rule is hard to beat, it is critical to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer with experience overcoming a contributory negligence defense.
Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Successfully Represent Dog Bite Victims and Their Families
If you or a member of your family has been attacked or injured by a dog, contact the law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today to learn about your rights and legal options. Our seasoned and compassionate Baltimore dog bite injury lawyers will review your case for free to determine if you have a valid claim against the dog’s owner. Contact us online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to arrange your no cost consultation with one of our skilled Maryland dog bite lawyers. A qualified member of our legal team is available to take your call 24 hours a day in case of emergency.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent injured dog bite victims and their families throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.