Injured in an Dog Bite Attack & Need Compensation?
Maryland Dog Bite Lawyers
Nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. While less than half of reported dog bites are severe enough to require ongoing medical attention, dog bites are terrifying and can leave lifelong injuries both physical and emotional. When an unprovoked dog attack occurs in Maryland, it is the owner of the dog that is responsible for the damages if the animal falls within a class of dangerous animals or if the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensity. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury from a dog bite or a domestic animal attack, it is essential for you to understand your legal rights.
DOG BITES AND MARYLAND LAW
Maryland statutes make the owners of dogs and other potentially dangerous animals liable for injuries that are caused by their pets. Under the law, “owner” is interpreted broadly, including anyone who keeps or harbors a dog, and also covers anyone who knowingly allows a dog to remain on a property that they occupy– owners can legally include landlords or the actual owners of a property in many cases as well as the actual “owner” of the dog. In Maryland, owners of certain breeds of dogs are held to a strict liability principle for injuries that are caused by their dogs; a dog owner can not claim that they did not know that their dog was dangerous as a defense to liability if they own certain breeds of dogs. This knowledge is considered to be irrelevant by the courts, and it is assumed that certain dogs have the potential to be dangerous. In addition to State laws, local counties and cities have their ordinances that govern a dog owner’s liability for injuries caused by their pets; Cook County’s dog ownership ordinances can be found here.
PROVOCATION AS A DEFENSE TO A DOG ATTACK
In Maryland, dog owners can not be held legally responsible for a person being injured if the injured person was acting to provoke the dog when the injury occurred. Provocation can be either intentional or unintentional, and can include things like teasing or physically harming the dog; in fact, courts have held in some cases that pushing the dog can be a sufficient action to be considered a provocation. A plaintiff that was injured by a dog must show that they did not do anything to provoke the dog that instigated the attack.
DANGEROUS BREEDS OF DOGS
Maryland law is among the states that recognize that ownership of certain breeds of dogs is dangerous. These kinds of animals are based on specific breed categories such as pit bulls. In certain Maryland counties, city ordinances may restrict the ownership of the pit bull category of dogs, and require that owners carry specific licenses and insurance policies to possess them. Even though animal rights groups argue that classifying certain breeds as dangerous dogs are unfair, pit bulls are disproportionately represented in the statistics of severe injuries and fatalities.
ANIMAL ATTACKS AND MARYLAND LAWSUITS
A plaintiff’s ability to recover for injuries sustained from a dog bite is highly dependent on where the bite or attack occurred. Statutes relating to dog bites vary in different states, counties, and municipalities. In the majority of dog bite situations, the suit will be brought against the dog owner, but in some cases, third parties can be involved as well. In addition to physical injuries, a plaintiff in a dog bite case may be able to receive restitution for emotional distress as well: mental anxiety and fear can be compensable if the injured person suffered a physical injury and met various other legal factors. The attorneys at Bruce Robinson & Associates can assist you in determining your rights under the laws of Maryland, as well as help with insurance claims and requests for compensation.
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