Columbia Dog Bite Attorney
To many of us, pets are a part of the family. We tend to their health, take them on walks, and even bring them along on vacation. Unfortunately, not everyone tends to their animals with loving care and devotion. Pet owners can sometimes be careless. They let their dogs run around without a leash, they don’t keep animals up-to-date on vaccinations, or they don’t train them properly. When dog owners don’t properly care for their pets, the dogs can become aggressive and bite humans or other pets. If you or a loved one has suffered due to an animal bite, our Columbia dog bite lawyers may be able to help.
Dog Bite Liability in Maryland
Dog bites and other animal attacks fall under an area of the law known as strict liability. These can be tough laws to understand. Strict liability refers to the idea that an individual can be liable for an action, even if he or she didn’t intend for it to happen.
In the eyes of the law, you’re free to file a personal injury claim even if the parties responsible aren’t technically at fault in any way. Victims often use strict liability as legal grounds for animal attack cases. When a dog bites you, for example, you may hold the owner responsible for damages, even if he or she isn’t directly responsible for the attack. Even if dog owners don’t know their dogs are dangerous and if they take reasonable precautions to prevent their dogs from biting someone (i.e., keeping them on leashes), they can still be responsible for their dog’s actions.
Using Strict Liability as Grounds for a Suit
Despite this, a person can’t file a personal injury suit against just anyone. In general, plaintiffs must show that:
- They were injured. Being almost bitten by a dog is not appropriate legal grounds for a suit.
- The dog was directly involved in the injury. You must prove it was the dog that bit you. Medical records may be sufficient proof.
- The person you’re suing is actually the pet’s owner.
- You didn’t provoke the attack.
- You had a legal right to be in the area where the attack happened.
The Dog Bite Statute in Columbia
In the past, the one free bite rule protected pet owners, meaning that dog owners would be relieved of liability on the first occurrence if they didn’t know their dog was dangerous. Most states, including Maryland, have moved past this statute and now have dog bite statutes on the books. These maintain that dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs, period. The Maryland dog bite statute applies to dogs “running at large.” An owner is not liable for injuries if:
- The injured party was trespassing.
- The injured party was committing a crime on the pet owner’s property.
- The injured party was provoking or teasing the animal.
Maryland’s law covers more than just bites; it also applies to other injuries the dogs may cause (i.e., knocking a person to the ground). If you’re unsure if your injury qualifies, speak to a Columbia dog bite attorney.
Have You Been Injured By a Dog?
Dog bite injuries may not always be serious, but they do still require medical attention and potential missed work time, which means lost wages. Irresponsible pet owners should be held accountable – your injury may not have been severe, but the next time a dog engages, the injuries might be.
If you or your child has been injured by a dog, the dog bite injury lawyers at Discepolo LLP can advise you about the next steps. Our Columbia personal injury lawyers are experienced in Maryland’s dog bite laws. We offer a free initial consultation and work on a contingency-fee basis. To schedule your risk-free case evaluation today, please contact us.