Dog attacks are serious matters that should not be taken lightly. In the United States alone, about 4.5 million people suffer dog bites every year.
Regardless of the dog’s typical demeanor or the owner’s involvement, if you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, you may have a personal injury claim. In the state of Maryland, there are strict laws regarding dog attacks and the owner’s liability. However, there is always room for argument in defense of the dog’s owner. This is why it is extremely important to hire an experienced personal injury law attorney to handle your personal injury claim.
What should I do after I am attacked or bitten by a dog?
Here are the steps you should take immediately after being bitten by a dog:
- Seek immediate medical treatment. Dog bites can easily become infected if not treated as soon as possible. In addition, unvaccinated dogs can have the rabies virus, which is lethal for humans when left untreated. It is also imperative for your personal injury case that you seek medical attention immediately and follow through with the medical provider’s treatment plan. Otherwise, your case will not be taken as seriously if you appear in front of a judge or jury in court.
- Take pictures and write down names. Note the property on which the attack occurred and, if possible, identify the dog’s owner. If you can do so safely, take pictures of your injuries, of the dog, and anything else that might show how the incident occurred. Ask the owner of the dog to provide proof that the dog has been vaccinated. You will want to take notes on where the incident happened, what you were doing before the attack, and anything regarding the dog’s appearance and behavior. If any of your clothes or property were damaged during the attack, you will want to keep them as evidence.
- Call an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney experienced with dog attacks in Maryland will review your case with you and advise you on how to move forward. If they believe you have a case, they will begin the process of collecting evidence and filing a personal injury claim.
Should I file a personal injury claim?
We understand that filing a personal injury claim may seem daunting, but if you have been injured by a dog, then you shouldn’t be responsible for your own medical bills or lost wages from missed work. You also deserve compensation for the pain you suffered. In addition to medical expenses, you may suffer life-long scars and or emotional injuries, and may require additional medical treatment later down the road. The value of your dog bite claim can vary greatly and often depends on acting quickly to have a conversation with an experienced personal injury law attorney.
When is the owner of a dog liable for a bite or an attack?
Maryland law provides for strict liability for dog attacks and dog-related injuries under certain circumstances. Strict liability means that the owner of the dog is automatically on the hook for injuries the dog caused if:
- The owner of the dog knew that the dog was dangerous, vicious, or had hurt someone before.
- The injury occurred when the dog was ‘at-large.’ This means that if the dog was off the owner’s property and not on a leash when the attack happened. Then, the owner is automatically liable. This happens most often when a dog escapes its house or fenced-in yard.
Standard negligence rules also apply to dog owners. Negligence is generally doing something unreasonable or failing to take reasonable precautions or give a warning, thereby causing harm to someone.
When is a landlord of a property liable for a bite or attack by a dog living on her property?
Landlords in Maryland have the duty to maintain common areas in a reasonably safe condition. This duty extends not only to the tenant but also includes the members of her family, her guests, her invitees, and others on the property. A landlord could be held liable for knowing about a dangerous dog on her property and not taking steps to protect visitors.
There are a number of defenses that insurance companies will try to use to deny paying an injured person, such as: contributory negligence, assumption of the risk, or trespass. These are legal doctrines that require an experienced attorney to help you navigate. You can be sure that insurance companies will use every argument available to them to argue the dog’s owner or the landlord is not responsible, in order to avoid paying a settlement. At Holzman & Associates, we understand the complexities of the laws surrounding dog attacks. We know what it takes to prove your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
For more than 75 years, Holzman & Associates, LLC has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for injury victims throughout Maryland. Ask around about us! If you believe you are entitled to compensation, contact us at 410-539-4222 for your free consultation.