A well-trained, obedient dog can make a wonderful pet. But when a dog turns aggressive or vicious, or is not properly controlled by its owner, it can threaten the safety of an entire community. Children are especially vulnerable because they are smaller than adults, less able to recognize dangers, and less able to defend themselves from a dog attack. If you, your spouse, or one of your children was bitten by another person’s dog in Maryland, such as a pit bull in your neighborhood, Maryland dog bite lawyer Randolph Rice can fight to help you get compensated.
Maryland’s dog bite liability laws are complex. Get trusted legal guidance about your options for recovering compensation. To find out whether you could have a personal injury case, call the Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free legal consultation, or contact us online.
Dog Bite Statistics + Most Dangerous Breeds
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), “Nearly five million people in the US are bitten by dogs each year.” While any dog can bite, including “family-friendly” breeds such as Labradors and golden retrievers, certain breeds are responsible for a disproportionate number of severe injuries. According to the results of a study published in 2019, the top six breeds with the highest bite risks were:
- Pit bulls
- Mutts (mixed-breed dogs)
- German shepherds
What Are the Health Risks of a Dog Bite?
The immediate danger with any bite wound, puncture wound, or laceration (cut) is blood loss, which must be quickly controlled. Depending on the force and location of the bite, structures like tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves can be seriously damaged, potentially causing permanent complications like loss of sensation or mobility in certain parts of the body.
Damage caused by tearing or chewing is not the only danger with a dog bite. Dogs’ mouths are full of bacteria, which can infect a bite wound or transmit disease. Infections and diseases that are risks of dog bites include rabies, MRSA, and tetanus. A dog attack can also leave the victim with extensive scarring, or even lead to the loss of fingers, limbs, or facial features like eyes and lips. These types of injuries can cause substantial impairment, affecting the victim’s ability to work and earn income. They can also cause severe emotional distress, anxiety, and depression, in addition to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Can You Sue if You Were Bitten by Someone Else’s Dog?
You may be able to file a lawsuit if you were injured by another person’s dog. This applies not only to bite wounds, but also to other injuries caused by dogs, such as scratch injuries or injuries from being knocked down. However, there are also some restrictions that could affect your claim. For example, if you wait too long to file, you could lose the ability to sue altogether, due to the statute of limitations. You should discuss your legal options with an attorney for dog bite claims in Maryland, who can help you understand what steps to take next.
Maryland Dog Bite Laws
Several laws or legal doctrines may impact a dog bite injury claim in Maryland. For example, Maryland’s strict liability law generally holds dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dogs, if the owner knew (or had reason to know) that the dog could injure someone. However, as the section below explains, there are also some situations where exceptions apply, protecting dog owners from bite liability.
Negligence is another doctrine or theory that may impact your case. If a person or business is negligent, it means that he or she failed to meet reasonable standards of care, leading to a preventable injury.
Many personal injury lawsuits require the plaintiff to show that the defendant was negligent. In a dog bite case, this may involve using evidence like medical records, veterinary records, eyewitness statements, or expert opinions from animal control officers.
Dog Bite Liability Exceptions
There are numerous scenarios where a dog owner can be held liable if their dog bites, scratches, or injures somebody. However, the law also makes a few exceptions. For example, if someone is attacked by a guard dog while trespassing on a homeowner’s property, the dog’s owner would not be held liable for the trespasser’s injuries.
There are also exceptions that could apply under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, which prevents accident or injury victims from recovering damages if they were partly at fault. However, the contributory negligence doctrine does not apply to children below age five, which means toddlers and babies are excluded.
Our Maryland Dog Bite Injury Attorney Can File Your Pit Bull Lawsuit
Recovering from a dog attack is emotionally and physically exhausting. We strive to make it easier by fighting for the justice you deserve.
The Rice, Murtha & Psoras handles dog bite injury lawsuits across Maryland. If you were bitten by a dog in Maryland, we may be able to help you file a personal injury claim. For a free legal consultation, contact us online today, or call (410) 694-7291.