Dog bites fall under the category of personal liability claims in Maryland. A person who’s been a victim of an animal attack in this state can claim personal injury damages and may get compensated.
As with every other personal injury civil lawsuit, Maryland gives a time limit or a statute of limitations. Dog bite cases must be brought to the court within 3 years of the incident. If the incident is not submitted to the civil court system within this time period, the court may dismiss the case or decline to hear the case at all. It’s important to start planning for this type of claim as soon as possible with a qualified attorney in order to make sure the deadline is not missed.
Claim of Negligence from the Dog Owner
Maryland is one of the few states that does not have a law forcing civil penalties for dog bite injuries. Dog bite injuries in Maryland fall under the common law rules of negligence. In order for an injured person to get compensation for a dog bite, he or she must prove that the owner of the dog demonstrated a lack of reasonable care that resulted in the dog bite.
There are also criminal penalties allowed by Maryland’s law if a dog that has already been labeled as dangerous bites another person. Local authorities are the ones who pursue criminal penalties and must prove that the dog’s owner has dishonored Maryland’s dog bite statutes.
For civil and criminal dog bite claims in Maryland, there’s a rule called the “one bite rule”. This rule states that a dog owner should know that a dog might bite before being held responsible for the dog bite injury. The most common and effective evidence of this is if the dog has bitten other people in the past. Also, an injured person may show that the dog has signs of aggressiveness that proves the owner knew of the dog bite risks.
Dog Owner Defenses in Dog Bite Claims
The owner of a dog involved in a dog bite civil claim has many lines of defense that he or she can use. Two of the most common are contributory negligence and trespassing. Contributory negligence means the person who was injured by the dog bite caused the injury. For example, if the injured person was repeatedly poking at the dog with a stick and the dog responded aggressively, the dog owner may claim that the victim caused the injury by irritating the dog. Also, if the victim is found to have fault in the dog bite incident, the victim will automatically be unable to collect any compensation, even if his responsibility in the case was small.
Another defense dog owners can use in dog bite claim situations is trespassing. If the dog owner can prove that the injured person entered his or her private property without the consent of the owner, the victim may not get any compensation for the injuries the dog caused.