Helping You Recover Compensation for Injuries Caused by a Dog Bite
Especially for children, dog bites can cause serious injuries to the head, face, and other body parts. An attack may also spark a lasting fear and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can make being around any dog a distressing experience. Dealing with these impacts disrupts victims’ lives in many ways.
If you suffered a dog bite in Maryland, you may be able to recover compensation from the owner to address these challenges. However, our dog bite laws are more lenient than that of most other states, so you need an accomplished attorney to help you understand your options and make a strategy.
Ashcraft & Gerel has experience serving personal injury victims of all types in Silver Spring, MD. Let us know if you were injured in a dog attack and we can help you determine whether filing a claim is the right choice for you.
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When Is a Dog Owner Liable in Maryland?
Just because you are attacked by a dog does not mean the owner is responsible, according to Maryland law. There are quite a few defenses a dog owner can use to defend themselves against an injury claim. Only with the full details of the situation can our attorneys determine the best way for you to make a claim.
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Strict liability doctrine considers a dog owner inherently responsible for any dangerous actions their pet takes. In Maryland, this statute applies when a dog is at large (outside the owner’s property and off-leash).
However, there are exceptions for when the attack victim is:
- Trespassing (or attempting to trespass) or committing any other illegal activity on the dog owner’s property
- Committing or attempting to commit a crime against anyone
- Responsible for provoking the dog (includes teasing, tormenting, and abuse)
A “Rebuttable Presumption” of Danger
If you are attempting to bring a case under strict liability rules, the dog owner may be able to defend themself by proving they had no reason to expect their dog could endanger others. If the dog has previously attacked and harmed another person or pet, either on public or private property, it is considered “potentially dangerous” under Montgomery County law. Once a dog has been thus labeled, its owner will always operate under strict liability rules, making it easier for a plaintiff to win their claim.
If you can find other proof a dog owner knows their pet might attack, such as a “beware of dog” sign at their house, you may be able to use it to convince the court to consider your claim under strict liability rules. Our attorneys can investigate the dog that attacked you for any such particulars.
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Owner Negligence or Negligence Per Se
Without proof a dog has acted aggressively in the past, it may be easier to win compensation by arguing the dog’s owner was negligent. This means proving they did not take reasonable precautions or failed to follow local laws.
For instance, Montgomery County requires dog owners to keep their pets leashed if they take them onto public school grounds on a school day. If a child is injured by an unleashed dog during recess, you would be able to claim the dog owner was negligent. We can evaluate your attack to determine whether any rules were broken by the owner.
Contributory Negligence in Maryland
Another barrier to bringing a dog bite claim is our state’s contributory negligence law. If the dog owner can prove you were at all implicated in the attack, you will not have any right to recover compensation. This is a common defense for any injury claim, and it makes working with skilled law firm a necessity. We can fully analyze your accident, looking for evidence of the other party’s liability and your innocence.
Negligence in Attacks on Children
While adults are expected to know how to safely act around dogs, the law recognizes children, especially those without pets, may not know what might prime a dog to attack. Children under 5 years old cannot be held liable under a contributory negligence claim. Those over 5 can be judged by this standard, but do not face the same level of scrutiny as an adult.
While rare, a parent can be considered responsible for their child’s injuries if the defendant can make a strong argument they played a role in the attack. If your child was injured by a dog, proving your own innocence may become part of your case.
Here to Help Silver Spring Dog Bite Victims
Whether you or a loved one was bitten by a dog or attacked and injured in another way, we want to do our part to help you find justice. Dog owners should be held responsible when their pets harm others.
A victim of a dog attack may face serious challenges and expenses such as:
- Emergency room bills
- Plastic/reconstructive surgery
- Lost wages
- Lasting disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Therapy for PTSD
Our team can help you identify the damages you are liable to recover and put together a case after a dog bite injury. Between our experience fighting serious cases and knowledge of local laws regarding dog ownership and liability in attacks, we are well-positioned to help you bring a claim for compensation. Our team has recovered over $1 billion for our clients.