Helping Dog Bite Victims Fight for Compensation
Every 40 seconds in the U.S., somebody seeks medical attention for a dog bite injury. Unfortunately, the majority of people who need medical attention after a dog attack are children, many of whom suffer facial injuries, including abrasions, cuts, fractures, punctures, and lacerations.
The laws governing dog bites and injuries are complex, but you may be entitled to compensation if someone else’s dog attacked you. We encourage you to discuss the incident with our Landover dog bite attorneys who can assess your situation and determine if you have a valid claim.
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The Law on Dog Bites
Under Section 3-1901, a dog owner can be held liable for the death, injury, or loss of a person or property caused by their dog running at large.
A dog owner is not considered liable, however, if the injured person was:
- Committing or trying to commit a crime on the dog owner’s property
- Trespassing on the dog owner’s property
- Abusing or provoking the dog
- Committing a criminal offense against someone else
Local law covers injuries inflicted by a dog bite or any other negative dog behavior – for example, if the dog pounces on someone and causes them to fall over and break a bone.
By law, dog owners are expected to ensure that their pet is not a threat to the public. That said, the circumstances of the incident matter because liability can be found under two different legal theories: Strict liability and negligence.
When deciding a dog bite case, courts will consider whether the dog’s owner was aware of their pet’s potentially hazardous tendencies. In Maryland, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for any injuries their dog causes. Under the one-bite rule, a dog is classified as dangerous once they have bitten someone, no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Once a dog is classified as potentially dangerous, the owner can be held strictly liable for any future attacks or bites.
Even if strict liability does not apply, the owner could still be considered negligent and therefore liable. If an owner has been found to be negligent, they could be liable for a bite victim’s injuries even if their dog has never attacked someone before.
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Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
Maryland does not currently have a law that allows for civil penalties in dog bite cases. As a result, litigation for dog bite injuries is generally held under the common law of negligence.
If a bite victim is seeking compensation for their injuries, they must prove the owner’s negligence caused the attack.
To prove negligence, four elements must be present:
Certain factors, such as contributory negligence, can complicate things. For example: If a person who was invited onto the dog owner’s property intentionally teases the dog or enters a closed-off section of the owner’s property, he or she does not have a valid claim for damages.
Under Maryland’s personal injury law, victims of dog bites have up to three years to file a lawsuit. Victims will likely be prohibited from filing a claim if they fail to file it within the statute of limitations.
Criminal Charges in Dog Bite Cases
A dog owner may face criminal charges on top of a civil lawsuit if their dog injures or kills someone and is considered dangerous. Dog owners are expected to properly restrain and muzzle dangerous dogs in public. A failure to follow the rules regarding dangerous dogs can result in a misdemeanor.
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As of 2014, Maryland takes a breed-neutral approach to dog bite cases. This means that pit bull and pit bull mixes are no longer considered dangerous simply because of their breed. Therefore, people who own these types of dogs are no longer strictly liable because of their dog’s breed.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel Today
It can be overwhelming to face dog bite litigation, especially in the wake of an incident that left you injured. Our dog bite lawyers in Landover are committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled.