Are Dog Owners in Maryland Liable if Their Pet Attacks Someone?

Getting attacked by a dog can be traumatizing and the bites can leave both physical and emotional scars. Some people develop a lifelong fear of dogs even if they loved them before. If you suffered dog bites, scratches and other injuries, you should contact an Annapolis, Maryland dog bite attorney for advice immediately. Depending on what happened, you can hold the owner responsible for your injuries. You may have legal options that allow you to claim compensation for your injuries and related losses. However, you need to act while it’s still possible to collect evidence. If you wait too late, witnesses may move away, or the statute of limitations may be up. If you’re wondering what your rights are in a dog bite case, continue reading.

What’s Covered Under Maryland’s Dog Bite Law

It’s not every time that a dog attacks someone that the owner can be held liable. Under Code of Maryland section 3-1901, the owner is responsible for any injury, death, or loss the dog causes while running at large. This is called strict liability. The law covers not only injuries caused by a dog bite, but injuries inflicted by other types of behavior. For example, a dog may jump on a jogger in a park, knock them down and break their arm. Even though it’s not a bite injury, you can hold the owner responsible for damages. However, owners aren’t legally responsible if the injured person was:
  • Trespassing or attempting to do so
  • Committing a crime or attempting to do so
  • Committing a criminal offense against another person or attempting to do so
  • Teasing, abusing, provoking or tormenting the dog

How Strict Liability Differs from the One Bite Rule

Maryland’s strict liability rule came into effect in 2014 following an overhaul of the law. Dog owners don’t have to know the dog would act aggressively to be held liable. Even if they took reasonable care to prevent the dog from injuring people, they can still be held responsible. This contrasts with the “one bite rule” which some states follow. This rule states that if the owner took reasonable care, they won’t be held liable unless they knew the dog was aggressive. The dog may have bitten or injured someone in the past. Maryland’s law includes what is called a rebuttable presumption. This means that if the dog injured someone before, the owner knows or should have known it’s dangerous. Unless the owner can show otherwise, the court presumes the owner knew the dog could harm someone else. If a dog attacks you, you can file a claim under the strict liability statute or the rules for negligence claims. A Maryland dog bite lawyer will assess your case and advise you on the best way to proceed. If you opt to prove negligence, you’ll have to show that the owner of the dog:
  • had an obligation to use reasonable care
  • neglected their responsibility
You must also prove that their failure to control or restrain the dog must have led to your injuries.

The Statute of Limitations Governing Dog Bite Cases

In Maryland, you have three years to bring a personal injury case to court and this includes dog bites. The clock usually starts running on the day the injury occurred. If you don’t file your lawsuit within the given time, you likely be barred from doing so. It won’t matter how serious your injuries were. However, if you contact an attorney immediately after your injury occurs, you’ll learn about the deadlines you have to meet. It may take longer than you think to investigate the incident and build a case. Furthermore, negotiating with the insurance company will take up lots of time. If you want to protect your right to get compensation, it’s best to move quickly.

Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC To Discuss Your Case!

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you must hire an experienced injury attorney in Annapolis. At Pinder Plotkin LLC, we know the state’s laws governing dog owners. We will do everything we can to help you. We’re committed to assisting victims in getting the compensation they need to recover from their injuries and move on. Dog bites can cause serious health challenges, so you need to ensure you recover all your losses. Contact our team for a free consultation so we can review the details surrounding your injuries. We’ll help you figure out if you have a case and identify who could be held liable. Call us today!
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