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What Are Your Legal Options After a Dog Bite in Maryland?

Legal Options Following a Dog Bite

Being bitten by a dog can be a frightening and painful experience. If you or a loved one has experienced such an incident in Maryland, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. Maryland law addresses dog bite cases through strict liability and negligence principles.

Strict Liability Law

Maryland has a strict liability law for dog bites, meaning the dog owner is responsible for any injuries caused by their pet. This means the owner can be held liable, regardless of the dog’s
previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of aggressive tendencies. You don’t have to prove the owner was negligent to recover damages. This principle protects individuals who are bitten without provocation or warning. However, if a person was trespassing, attempting to trespass, or provoking the dog when injured, the owner cannot be held liable for any injuries.

Negligence Claims

You may have the option to pursue a negligence claim. This involves proving that the injury was caused by the owner failing to control their dog. For instance, if the owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies and failed to take appropriate precautions, they may be found negligent.

Damages You Can Recover

A personal injury lawsuit may be filed against the dog owner if the dog bite resulted in significant injuries. This legal action seeks compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related damages. Documenting all expenses and lost wages is crucial for a successful compensation claim. Keep records of medical bills, prescriptions, receipts, and any relevant documentation related to the dog bite.

  • Medical expenses: Victims are generally entitled to compensation for immediate medical attention, including emergency room visits, ambulance fees, and initial medical assessments. Compensation may include expenses for follow-up visits to doctors, specialists, and any necessary medical professionals involved in the recovery process. The cost of prescribed medications needed for recovery from the dog bite may also be covered.
  • Lost wages: If a dog bite results in injuries that hinder the victim’s ability to work, they may be entitled to compensation for the income lost during the recovery period. This includes wages missed due to hospitalization, medical appointments, or any time off needed for recovery. In cases where the injuries have a long-term impact on the victim’s ability to work or earn income, compensation may also cover the loss of future earning capacity. This is particularly relevant if the victim faces a diminished ability to perform their job or is forced to take a lower-paying position due to the dog bite.
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering relate to any physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish resulting from a dog bite. It includes the immediate suffering following the incident and any lingering effects impacting the victim’s overall well-being. Compensation for physical pain consists of the discomfort, the pain, and any suffering experienced due to the injuries inflicted by the dog. This extends beyond immediate pain to encompass any ongoing discomfort or chronic pain. Emotional distress resulting from the bite might include anxiety, depression, fear, insomnia, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims may be entitled to compensation for the emotional toll the dog bite has taken on their mental health.
  • Other damages: You may also be able to seek compensation for other damages, such as scarring, disfigurement, property damage, and special damages, which encompass financial losses directly related to the incident.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

A dog bite can be an awful and potentially dangerous situation. Take the appropriate steps after a dog bit to ensure safety, prevent complications, and establish a foundation for any potential legal actions.

  1. Seek medical attention immediately to address any immediate health concerns resulting from a dog bite. Dogs may carry bacteria in their mouths; even minor bites can lead to infections that can escalate into more severe medical conditions if not treated.
  2. Report the bite to animal control. Contacting your local animal control agency is prudent after a dog bite. Animal control may investigate the incident and, if necessary, take measures to ensure public safety. This could include declaring the dog dangerous and imposing restrictions on its ownership.
  3. Gather evidence. Collecting and documenting evidence is vital for building a strong case. This may include medical records, photographs of injuries, witness statements, and any communication with the dog owner. Thorough documentation strengthens your position in negotiations or court proceedings.
  4. Contact a personal injury attorney. If the dog bite resulted in significant injuries, consider filing a personal injury lawsuit that seeks compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related damages. Consult with a personal injury attorney to assess the viability of your case and understand the potential compensation you may be entitled to.

Statute of Limitations

In Maryland, you have three years from the day of the dog bite to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. You may lose your right to compensation if a lawsuit is not filed within this time frame. Consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with these deadlines.

Know Your Legal Options After a Dog Bite in Maryland

The skilled legal team at The Joel Bieber Law Firm can assess the circumstances surrounding a dog bite, advise you on the strength of your case, and guide you through the legal process. They can negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company or, if necessary, file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. The Joel Bieber Law Firm is here to fight for your rights. If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite in Maryland, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced legal team. We’re here to provide support, answer your questions, and advocate for you. Call us today at 1-866-891-7225 to schedule a free consultation.