Dog bites and attacks are a common occurrence in Maryland and across the United States. According to the Canine Journal, in 2016 alone there were 4.5 million dog bites recorded in the United States. And in 2014, insurance companies paid $530 million in dog bite-related claims.
With the spring season in full motion, we tend to see an uptick in dog bites and attacks. More people and dogs are spending time outside, enjoying walks, and visiting outdoor recreation areas like parks. This increase in interactions between dogs and humans means more opportunities for these incidences to occur.
Dog bites and attacks can be quite dangerous, with an average of 800,000 cases resulting in medical attention. If you or a loved one has experienced a dog bite or attack in the state of Maryland, you may have a personal injury claim. We encourage you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. We also encourage you to read our blog on what to do if you are attacked or bitten by a dog.
If you are wondering what the Maryland laws are regarding dog bites and attacks, here is the scoop:
Maryland is a statutory strict liability state where the attacking dog was ‘at large’ (i.e. running around off the leash), and where the dog owner knew or should have known that his dog was vicious or dangerous.
If the owner knew their dog was dangerous, vicious, or had hurt someone before, they are on the hook for any injuries their dog causes going forward. However, even if the dog has no history of aggression or attacks, the state of Maryland holds the owner automatically liable for injuries the dog causes if it is considered to be ‘at-large,’ which means the dog was off of the owner’s property and not on a leash when it causes an injury. There is an exception to this rule if the injured person was trespassing or committing a crime. The dog owner is also not responsible for the injury if the victim was antagonizing the dog by provoking or abusing it.
The relevant statute can be found in Courts & Judicial Proceedings section 3–1901.
Maryland also follows common law negligence rules with regard to dog attacks. When a person is injured by negligence, the victim can base his claim on the doctrine of negligence. Negligence is generally doing something unreasonable or failing to take reasonable precautions or give a warning, thereby causing harm to someone. For example, if someone allowed a strange dog to encounter small children in a daycare center, that might be considered unreasonable. If the dog then bit a child, the child could recover monetary compensation under the doctrine of negligence.
Landlords can be held liable for a dog bite or attack if they knew about a dangerous dog on their property and did not take steps to protect visitors. The reason being, landlords in Maryland must 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.
There are many ways a dog can injure a person which can result in a lawsuit. Aside from a dog directly biting a person, dogs can also scratch or knock people over that are walking or riding a bicycle. When a person is injured by a dog in any way, they often incur large medical costs and have to miss time from work. Things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering can be compensated in a dog injury case. It is worth having a knowledgeable lawyer look at your case to determine the full scope of your damages so that you can be assured you are receiving maximum compensation for your injuries.
There are several 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, 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.
If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite or attack, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Holzman & Associates for legal assistance. To schedule a free consultation at our Baltimore office, call us at 410-539-4222 or contact us online. We also meet with clients in their homes or hospital rooms when necessary.
For more than 50 years, Holzman & Associates, LLC has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for injury victims throughout Maryland. Ask around about us!