Dogs are wonderful animals – they're loving, attentive and just fun to have around. Nevertheless, the sad reality is that there are dangerous dogs in and around Baltimore. When owners lose control of these animals, innocent people can suffer serious personal injuries.
This is where our experienced dog bite attorneys can help. We have a comprehensive understanding of Maryland's dog bite law, and we have decades of experience handling these cases. If you've suffered an injury as the result of a dog bite, our attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
If you need an experienced dog bite attorney in the Baltimore, Maryland area, please call Cohen & Dwin, PA today at 410-653-6000 for a free consultation.
Maryland's Dog Bite Law
The state of Maryland passed a dog bite statute in 2014. It's a balanced, somewhat nuanced law, and understanding it is crucial to knowing what your legal options are.
Here are the key provisions of the law:
- The dog's owner is responsible for any injuries caused by the dog while it is running free, even if there's no other evidence of negligence.
- If a dog bites or injures someone, it creates a presumption that the owner should have known the dog was dangerous or had violent tendencies. This means the owner would be liable.
- However, this is known as a “rebuttable presumption.” The owner has the ability to prove that there was no way he or she could have known the dog would bite.
- Victims can also bring a claim under Maryland's negligence statute. In this case, you'd have to prove that the owner failed to take reasonable care and that failure caused the bite.
Finally, dog owners are not liable if the victim was trespassing or otherwise illegally on the owner's property. Owners can also claim the victim was provoking the dog. Under Maryland's law of contributory negligence, a victim cannot recover any award or verdict if he or she was found to have contributed to the injury – even if the contribution was minor (even a one percent contribution from the victim is enough to jeopardize your right to compensation). Due to these harsh contributory negligence laws, it's crucial that you work with an experienced dog bite attorney.
Dog Bites and Children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that of the 4.7 million Americans who suffer a dog bite injury each year, more than half are children. While many people fear unknown dogs that run at large, few people realize that more than half of all dog bites happen in the home. Your own dog may be just as likely to bite as a dog belonging to a stranger.
Because of their small stature, children are more likely to be bitten in the face, neck, and head. About half the victims of fatal dog attacks are children under 14. Even minor injuries resulting from dog bites can leave children with deep emotional scars and trauma. Scaring and disfigurement can add to the psychological impacts.
The most important step you can take to prevent dog bites is to educate your family, especially young children, about how to interact with dogs. The following tips can help you prevent dog bite attacks against your children:
- Never leave a baby or small child unsupervised with a dog – even your own family pet.
- Don't let your child run past a dog as this may trigger the dog's natural instinct to chase and catch you.
- Never let your child approach a dog you don’t know, especially if it’s tied up or confined.
- Don't let your child disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Obtain permission from a dog’s owner before letting your child pet or touch it.
- Allow the dog to sniff your child's hand before touching it.
- Avoid touching a dog on the top of the head as this may seem threatening to the dog; instead, pet under the chin or the side of the head.
- If a dog is displaying aggressive or threatening body language, try to place an inanimate object between your child and the dog, or get away into a car or building.
Cohen & Dwin Can Help
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a dog bite attack, your family is not alone. Our experienced dog bite attorneys know how to investigate the circumstances of an attack and prove liability. Most dog bite compensation is actually paid through the owner's insurance policies, but the lack of a policy does not preclude you from recovering compensation for your damages.
The attorneys at Cohen & Dwin have witnessed firsthand the devastating injuries that can occur during a dog bite attack. We'll fight aggressively to help you hold the negligent dog owner accountable for your damages.
Contact our Baltimore Dog Bite Attorneys
If you've suffered a dog bite injury in the Baltimore, Maryland area and need an experienced attorney to fight for you, please call Cohen & Dwin, PA today at 410-653-6000 for a free consultation.