Dog Bite Lawyer
Pets are supposed to be fun, but our Baltimore dog bite lawyer knows that’s not always the case. Hundreds of people are seriously injured or killed every year in dog attacks, especially children and the elderly.
Dog attacks are commonly the subject of premises liability claims. If you’ve been injured in a dog attack, Baltimore personal injury lawyer and experienced premises liability lawyer John J. Leppler can help you recover all the damages you deserve – and need – for your injuries.
Maryland Dog Bite Statistics
How common are dog attacks in Maryland? The statistics indicate that they are fairly common. If you are a Towson or Baltimore City resident, you need to be on the lookout for dogs that may be at large.
In 2019, a total of 1,146 dog bite incidents were tallied in Baltimore County, slightly down from 2018’s 1,173 mark.
Even dog bites that are not life-threatening can still be devastating. The numbers show that treating a dog bite costs an average of $30,000. If you cannot sue the owner, you may need to make a payment you cannot afford. Work with a dog bite law firm so that an experienced dog attack lawyer ensures that something like that does not happen in your case.
Who Is Responsible in a Dog Bite Case?
When a dog attacks someone, it is reasonable to assume that the animal’s owner will take responsibility for what happened. However, things are not always that simple. According to the Maryland law, “the owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the [dog] when the dog is running at large.”
The owner is responsible if:
- The dog was “at large”. A dog is considered “at large” when it is moving without a leash, away from its owner’s property, and unsupervised.
- They had knowledge of Their dog’s vicious tendencies. If a pet owner knew their dog tended to bite strangers, they should have taken more precautions to prevent attacks. They will be responsible by the law for failing to keep their dog away from the public.
An owner is not liable if the injured person was:
- Trespassing or attempting to trespass on the owner’s property,
- Committing or attempting to commit another crime other than trespassing on the owner’s property,
- Committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any other person, or
- Provoking, abusing, teasing, or tormenting the dog.
The defendant in your case may use one of those reasons to deflect blame and avoid a large payout. Prevent them from succeeding with that strategy by partnering with a dog bite law firm.
Maryland’s law applies to injuries inflicted by other types of dog behavior in addition to dog bites. For example, if a dog runs up and jumps on a pedestrian walking down the sidewalk, knocking the pedestrian down and causing injury, the dog’s owner can be held liable for those injuries.
Is There a “One Bite” Rule in Maryland?
The one bite rule is a guideline that an individual often brings up in dog bite accidents. Basically, the one bite rule gives a pet owner an out if their dog attacks someone for the first time. The owner can claim that they did not know that their pet was capable of that, so they could not prepare for it.
So, does Maryland also follow the one bite rule? No. Dog owners should know that the state does not adhere to that guideline. Instead, Maryland adheres to the principle of strict liability.
Maryland’s Strict Liability Law
Section 3-1901 of Maryland law is a “strict liability” rule, which means the dog’s owner is responsible for damages caused by the dog even if the owner took reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing injuries and even if the owner did not know the dog would act aggressively.
This is as opposed to various other state laws, which only hold owners responsible if they know the dog may act aggressively; for example, has bitten before. These laws are known as “one bite” rules. The law in Maryland includes a rebuttable presumption that the owner “knew or should have known” the dog was dangerous if the dog had injured or killed someone in the past.
Why It is Important to Hire a Lawyer after a Dog Bite
Contacting a dog bite lawyer should be one of your priorities in the immediate aftermath of an attack. The assistance they can offer in that scenario is incredibly valuable. A dog attack attorney can help you:
Speak to Witnesses
The events leading up to the dog attack will greatly impact the outcome of your personal injury case. To create an accurate account of the incident, your dog bite attorney will speak to all the available witnesses. They will gather statements from the witnesses to prove that you were indeed the victim in that scenario.
With those statements in your possession, you and your dog bite injury lawyer can present a strong case.
Investigate the History of the Dog
The dog’s background can also affect how a particular case turns out. Unsurprisingly, the owner of the dog may not share everything about their pet’s history without a fight.
If you are having trouble receiving that information from the owner, the lawyer from the dog bite law firm can take over and work on that task. They will investigate the history of the animal that attacked you and see if you can use it as evidence.
Handle Negotiations with the Dog Owner
Shortly after the accident, the owner of the dog will likely attempt to get in touch. They may want to talk to you about a potential settlement. Negotiating a settlement is not a bad idea, but you must acknowledge the possibility that the other side is not presenting you with a fair offer.
Let your attorney handle those negotiations so they can evaluate the offer first. They will tell you if the other side is negotiating in good faith or if they are trying to take advantage of you.
Give You Time to Recover
Lastly, you should hire a lawyer if a dog recently bit you so you can recover properly. Vicious dogs can cause serious injuries. You need to rest after an attack, so allow your lawyer to handle things in your stead.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Claim Worth?
An important part of filing a dog bite lawsuit is understanding how much to ask for. Thankfully, this is something your dog bite lawyer can help with. They can coordinate closely with your doctor to determine how much you should ask for in your lawsuit.
If you want a clearer breakdown of how much these claims could be worth, we need to discuss economic and non-economic damages. Economic Damages: The tangible losses you sustained in the dog bite accident are considered economic damages. These economic damages will likely cover all the medical expenses you accrued from your hospital stay. You may also receive compensation if you need continued treatment for some accident-related injuries. Economic damages should also cover any damage to your property and the wages you lost while recovering in the hospital. Non-Economic Damages: The compensation package you receive from the defendant must also offer compensation for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are losses that you cannot quantify. The pain and suffering you have been dealing with in the days following the accident are considered non-economic damages. You may also receive non-economic damages if the dog disfigured you. Victims who suffer from emotional distress after an attack are also entitled to additional compensation. Allow your dog bite attorney to calculate the non-economic damages in your case. Their familiarity with courts in Baltimore County ensures that they will come up with the right number to present.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Maryland?
Taking action as quickly as possible is a necessity because of the statute of limitations. The state of Maryland has set the statute of limitations for dog bite cases at three years. We should point out that the three-year deadline starts from the day of the attack.
Failing to submit your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires will likely spell the end for your case. Those cases often end up dismissed by the courts, so do not expect to receive compensation. The statute of limitations is another reason you should hire a dog attack attorney before proceeding with your lawsuit. Putting together a strong lawsuit can take time, and you cannot commit while still recovering. Ask your dog attack lawyer to handle the filing to ensure it is on time.
Dog Bite Law Firm
Dog attacks can be traumatic experiences in so many ways. At the Law Office of John J. Leppler, we understand the physical and mental trauma associated with dog attacks. You have legal options as a victim of a dog bite or other animal injury. Contact us online or by phone at (443) 955-1989 for a same-day response to schedule your free consultation.
Some of the locations we serve are Baltimore City, as well as locations in Baltimore County including: Towson, Rosedale, Dundalk, Cockeysville, Lutherville-Timonium, Lochearn, Overlea, Parkville, Essex, Glen Burnie, Ferndale, Pikesville, Carney, Catonsville, Randallstown, Reisterstown, Perry Hall, Hampton, White Marsh, and more.