Being attacked by a dog can be a traumatic event. The attack can extend
well beyond the physical injuries, as many victims suffer from emotional
trauma, as well. If that is not enough, navigating the challenges of Maryland’s
laws related to dog bites can make the whole experience frustrating. It
might seem logical that if you are bitten by a dog, then the person who
owns the dog should pay for all your damages. Unfortunately, the law is
never that straightforward. Because dog bite cases can end up being complex,
it is important to retain a Maryland dog bite attorney right away.
What to do After a Dog Bite
Getting medical treatment for a dog bite is the first and most important
thing you need to do, especially in the case of a serious attack. You
also need to contact the police and animal control to make reports. It
is important to get photos and document all your injuries. If you know
who owns the dog, ask the owner for their insurance information.
Liability in Maryland for Dog Bites
Liability is where things can get difficult in Maryland when it comes to
dog bites. If the dog was running “at large,” the owners may
be found strictly liable, which means you do not need to show negligence
or fault. However, if the dog was in its own yard, the owners may not
be negligent, unless they knew the dog had a propensity to be vicious.
Code of Maryland Section 3-1901, the law states an owner is not liable if the injured person was:
- Attempting to or trespassing on the property
- Committing crime or attempting to commit a crime outside of trespassing
- Attempting to or committing a crime against another person
- Teasing, harassing, abusing, or tormenting the dog
If you are assuming that certain breeds are automatically considered vicious
breeds in the eyes of the law, that is no longer the case. Maryland has
“breed neutrality,” which means there is not a presumption
that certain breeds should be considered dangerous or violent.
If the dog bite does not fall under strict liability for running “at
large,” there may still be recovery under the laws of negligence.
However, if it can be proven that the victim contributed to his or her
own injuries in any way, there is no recovery for any damages. Maryland
follows the theory of contributory negligence. This means if someone is
even 1% at fault for their own injuries, they are completely barred from
recovery. In a state that follows comparative negligence, even if they
were deemed 25% at fault, they could recover 75% of their damages.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites
In Maryland, you have three years to file a lawsuit or your claim is barred
by the statute of limitations. The clock starts running from the day you
are injured, not when the claim is filed or when negotiations break down
with the dog owner’s insurance company. This is another reason why
it is important to contact a
Maryland personal injury attorney early on. The Law Office of Robert R. Castro has years of experience handling
dog bite cases. If you have been a victim of a dog bite attack, contact
our office to schedule a consultation.