Dog bites cost the nation millions of dollars year. They can also be costly for irresponsible dog owners who fail to keep their pets under control. How much a dog bite case worth in Baltimore depends on a range of factors. The victims of dog bites are often children. They are not old enough to pick up on the warning signs of an impending attack. Dog owners have a duty to keep their animals restrained or away from children.
When our Baltimore dog bite injury attorneys are asked how much a dog bite case is worth in Maryland we will examine a range of factors including the severity of the injury and the amount of insurance available. Please contact us if you or your child has been hurt by a dog.
Dog Bite Statistics in Baltimore, Maryland
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. Although many of these bites are minor, about 1,000 people go to the emergency room every day for treatment of dog bite injuries.
It used to be difficult to sue for a dog bite in Maryland. Fortunately, the victims of dog attacks now have more rights. That does not mean these cases are always straightforward.
The Rights of Victims Looking to Sue for a Dog Bite in Baltimore
In past years, Maryland followed the “one-bite rule” for animal attacks. This meant a victim could only sue the owner of a dog if the owner knew the animal had a propensity to be violent. This was not always easy to prove. The rule might prevent people who were bitten by a dog not known for its violent nature from receiving compensation. The owner simply claimed he or she had no idea the dog would attack and the victim faced an uphill battle.
The Maryland Court of Appeals made an important exception when it considered a pit bull attack in the 2012 case of Tracey v. Solesky. The judges said the “one-bite rule” no longer applied if the dog responsible for the attack was a pit bull or a pit bull cross. The former rule and the Tracey case were later superseded by a 2014 law when Maryland imposed limited statutory strict liability on the owners of all domestic dogs. On the face of it, the rule is more beneficial than the old law for victims and should help them recover more money.
Evidence that the dog caused an injury makes the case that the owner should have known the dog was dangerous under the 2014 law. Rather than the victim showing that the dog had aggressive tendencies before the attack, the owner must prove that the dog was not dangerous before the attack.
The law is not total strict liability because it created a rebuttable presumption that the owner of a dog that injures someone knew or should have known that the dog had a predisposition to attack. It creates strict liability for a dog owner whose dog injures someone while running at large, meaning it is not on the property and running loose in the neighborhood. There are many examples of people being attacked by loose dogs in Baltimore. An article in the Baltimore Sun noted the city is one of the most dangerous in the country for mail delivery workers who are attacked by dogs.
Although the change in the law helps the victims of dog bites in Baltimore, there are certain limits. Liability for an injury or a wrongful death by a dog bite depends on the victim’s behavior. People who are attacked by pets on another person’s property may be judged as trespassers and unable to claim compensation. Committing a criminal offense or provoking a dog can undermine your rights to claim compensation.
The recent change in the dog bite law in Maryland coincides with a rise in dog bites and an increase in the burden animal attacks place on the health services in Maryland and elsewhere.
What is the Cost of Medical Expenses of Dog Bites?
A recent study found animal bites are costing the nation more than $1 billion a year. Many of these are dog bites.
The incidence of all animal attack injuries has risen over the past decade, according to the BMJ. However, the most common cause of injuries seen by hospital departments is from bites from non-venomous arthropods. These include mosquitoes, spiders, and ticks, CNN reported.
Dog bites accounted for 26 percent of the injuries. The report’s authors noted more people suffered animal-related injuries in low-income areas.
What Damages Can You Claim After a Dog Bite in Baltimore?
What your dog bite case in Baltimore is worth depends on factors like the extent of economic damages. Your claim will depend on how much time you missed from work and how much money you lost. Lawyers will make a calculation about how much time you are likely to lose in the future because of ongoing health problems from the bite. Economic damages also include medical bills, both past and future. Some dog bites can be devastating and disfiguring. Victims undergo extremely expensive reconstructive surgery.
A Maryland personal injury attorney will help you place a figure on non-economic damages. Pain and suffering caused by a dog bite can be ongoing. Victims often suffer emotional trauma and PTSD as they relive the attack in their minds. They can suffer a loss of enjoyment and feel nervousness around dogs. These factors are added to the equation.
A judge or jury will ultimately decide the value of your dog bite case through the litigation process if a settlement is not reached beforehand.
It’s difficult to put a figure on a dog bite case in Baltimore. The average outcome is about $24,000 but victims have been awarded more than $1 million for serious dog bites.
Who Pays for a Dog Bite Case in Baltimore?
Dog bites are covered under homeowners and renter’s insurance unless they are specifically excluded from coverage. In rare cases, the owner may pay a difference between the policy value and higher damages. The Insurance Information Institute points out homeowners and renters insurance policies usually cover dog bite liability legal expenses up to the liability limits that are typically $100,000 to $300,000. If the claim exceeds the limit, the dog owner is responsible for all damages over and above that amount.
Homeowners insurers paid out $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other injuries caused by canines in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.
The average cost per claim rose by 5.3 percent in 2018. The average dog bite claim in the year was $39,017. The amount paid out by insurers for dog bites rose dramatically in recent years. It jumped by more than 103 percent from 2003 to 2018, due to a spike in medical costs as well as the size of settlements, and jury awards given to victims, which are trending upwards.
Talk to a Baltimore Dog Bite Injury Lawyer About What Your Case is Worth
The victims of dogs in Baltimore and elsewhere are receiving more for their injuries. That is good news but they still face an uphill battle against insurance companies. Talk to a lawyer about your dog bite case rather than dealing directly with the insurance company. These cases are complicated and the insurance company may seek to blind you with science. Please contact our Baltimore personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 834-1350.