Personal injury lawsuits can happen for all kinds of reasons. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that the plaintiff believes they were injured due to the defendant’s actions or lack thereof. While this is true, it’s important to remember that sometimes people aren’t the only ones involved. If you’ve been bit by another person’s dog, you potentially have a personal injury case on your hands.
The Seriousness of Dog Bites
If you’ve grown up with dogs, you’ve probably been bit more than a few times. Puppies tend to do it until they’ve been around people for a month or so and know better. Even though it can be normal and expected in some circumstances, dog bites can be very serious things.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4.5 million people are attacked by dogs every year. About 20% of those people end up needing medical attention because of how severe the injury is. In total, 30,000 people need some type of reconstructive surgery every year to repair the damage done by dog bites.
Dog Bites and Maryland Law
Every state treats dog bites differently, as far as the law is concerned. In Maryland, there are two reasons a dog owner can be held accountable for their pet attacking a person. These are strict liability and negligence.
Strict liability is the toughest charge for a dog owner to defend against. To win, a victim only needs to prove that the dog in question caused the injury and that the owner knew their animal was dangerous.
In Maryland, pure bred pit bulls are automatically classified as dangerous dogs, no matter what their individual history may reflect. Otherwise, a dog is considered dangerous if it has bitten someone once before. This is generally referred to as the “one bite rule.” Once your dog has bitten someone, you will be held responsible for any subsequent instances. Keep in mind that you don’t have to prove a dog has bitten before in order to win your personal injury case on strict liability grounds.
The second way you could win your personal injury case is by proving that the owner acted negligently. Any failure on the part of the dog owner to reasonably control their animal is seen as negligence. One common example is when a dog owner doesn’t obey leash laws and their animal runs up and attacks someone. As long as a lawyer can prove the owner should have known the dog could attack someone, they’ll be found negligent in court.
Dog Bite Defenses
There are usually two ways a dog bite victim will lose their case. First, if you trespass and a dog bites you, you probably won’t be receiving any damages. Likewise, if you contributed to negligence in the situation—say, if you provoked the animal—you most likely won’t win.
If you’ve been injured because of a dog bite, seek medical attention. Then call 1-800-776-4529. At Ingerman and Horwitz, our attorneys are experienced with all forms of personal injury, including dog bites. We can provide you with a free consultation too, so you know what your chances are before proceeding.