Dog Bite Attorney in Baltimore
Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend,” but they are still animals. And it is an unfortunate truth that dog owners sometimes lose control of their pets. When this occurs and a dog bites or attacks someone, innocent victims can suffer serious injuries.
Medical bills for a dog bite can be expensive. Some victims cannot work. Many are forced to face permanent scarring and disfigurement that serves as a constant reminder of their trauma. All of this can take a toll on a person physically, emotionally, and financially.
If you’ve been hurt by a dog, the Baltimore dog bite injury attorneys of Cohen & Dwin, P.A., can help you pursue the compensation you need to recover. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of collective experience fighting for dog bite victims in Baltimore, Owings Mills, and throughout Maryland. Contact us now for a free consultation.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
When you are bitten or attacked by a dog owned by someone else, the owner is responsible for the damages caused by the injuries. Because dog bites and attacks frequently involve a dog known to the victim, such as a neighbor’s or a relative’s dog, many people are hesitant to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner. In most cases, however, the homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance of the dog’s owner provides liability coverage for injuries caused by a dog bite or attack. As a result, if you seek compensation for a dog bite injury, you will likely be seeking compensation from an insurance company, not the dog’s owner.
Since 1977, the Baltimore dog bite injury lawyers at Cohen & Dwin have helped victims of dog attacks pursue the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. Let us help you understand your options in a dog bite injury case. Schedule a free consultation with our team now.
Understanding Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
Although physical injuries caused by a dog bite are the most immediate concern, many dog bites can have complications in the form of infection. Dogs’ mouths and saliva carry viruses and bacteria. Although many of these germs are relatively harmless to humans, some diseases and conditions that can be transmitted by a dog bite include:
Even if you have received treatment for your dog bite injury, you should follow up with your physician or seek emergency treatment if you begin to suffer signs of infection such as:
- Redness, swelling, or tenderness at the bite area
- Pus, oozing, or other fluid discharge from the bite
- General fatigue, fever, chills, or aches
If you believe a dog bite may have infected you, you must seek immediate medical treatment. An infection can cause serious, even fatal medical conditions, or may cause tissue death at the infection site, which can require amputation to prevent more serious complications.
Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury
If you are hurt in a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Compensation for personal injuries falls into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate injured victims for specific financial losses that they suffer as a result of their injuries. These damages may be calculated from bills, invoices, or paystubs. Examples of economic damages for personal injuries include:
- Medical expenses, such as ER and hospital bills, doctor visits, surgery, prescription medication, and rehabilitative therapy
- Future treatment costs
- Lost wages, if you miss work due to your dog bite injuries
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from returning to the kind and quantity of work that you could perform before you were hurt
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate an injured victim for intangible, subjective losses caused by the injuries, such as:
- Pain and suffering, or the emotional and physical anguish and distress caused by your injuries
- Loss of quality of life, such as that caused by disfigurement or disability that prevents you from performing daily tasks or participating in activities you enjoyed before your injuries
It is impossible to know how much your dog bite claim is worth right off the bat. Still, an insurance company may offer you a settlement quickly, hoping you will accept and sign away your rights. You should not sign anything or give a statement to the insurance company without speaking to a knowledgeable dog bite injury lawyer. Our attorneys can review your case for free and help you calculate what full and fair compensation should be.
What to Do After a Dog Attack in Baltimore
If you are attacked by a dog in Baltimore, there are steps you can take to protect your rights.
- First, it is important to contact the owner of the dog. If you cannot locate the dog’s owner, you can contact your local animal control or police. Doing so is important in order to obtain the dog’s immunization records or have the animal tested for common diseases carried by dogs.
- Next, you should seek immediate medical treatment, especially if the bite or attack caused broken skin. Medical treatment may be necessary to prevent infection. Be sure to keep copies of your medical records and invoices for medical expenses.
- You should also photograph your injuries. And be sure to write down the names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the attack.
- Finally, you should speak with an experienced Baltimore dog bite injury attorney at Cohen & Dwin. Our lawyers can help you understand your legal options and the types of financial recovery you may be entitled to in a claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
If you have suffered injuries from a dog bite or attack, you have a limited period in which to file a lawsuit to recover damages. This period is called the statute of limitations. In Maryland, the statute of limitations on a lawsuit for personal injuries arising from a dog bite or attack is three years from the date of injury. If you do not file a lawsuit before the expiration of the statute of limitations, the court can permanently dismiss your case.
In limited circumstances, a court can pause, or “toll,” the running of the statute of limitations. For example, under Maryland law, the statute of limitations is tolled for a personal injury claimant under the age of 18. The statute of limitations does not begin to run for minors until they turn 18.
Maryland Dog Bite Laws
Maryland passed a new dog bite statute in 2014. The purpose of the statute was to balance the responsibility of dog owners against the rights of people injured in dog attacks. The main provisions of Maryland’s dog bite law include:
- The dog owner is liable for any injuries caused by a dog while it is running free, even if there is no other evidence of negligence.
- If a dog injures someone, it is presumed that the dog’s owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was dangerous or had violent tendencies, making the owner liable for the injuries.
- The owner can refute this presumption by proving there was no way he or she knew, or could have known, that the dog would attack or bite someone.
- Under Maryland’s general negligence laws, the victim must prove that the owner failed to take reasonable care in handling the dog, and that this failure to take reasonable care caused the attack or bite.
- A dog owner is not liable for an attack if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the attack.
- Maryland’s contributory negligence rules are maintained for dog bite claims. If the owner can prove that the victim contributed to the dog’s attack, such as by provoking the dog, the victim will be unable to recover any compensation.
Dog Bites and Children
More than half of the 4.7 million victims of dog bites and attacks across the country each year are children, and more than half also involve the owner or a member of the owner’s family, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of all victims of fatal dog attacks are children under the age of 14. This is because smaller children are far more likely to be bitten in vulnerable areas such as the face, head, and neck if a dog attacks them. Dog attacks can easily leave children with both physical and emotional scars.
As a result, it is important to educate your family, especially young children, about how to interact with dogs. Some important tips for avoiding and preventing dog bites and attacks, especially upon young children, include:
- Do not leave a baby or small child unsupervised with a dog, even if it is your own dog.
- Do not let a child run past a dog, since this can trigger a dog’s instinct to chase and capture prey.
- Do not let your child approach a dog you do not know, especially if the dog is tied up or confined.
- Do not let your child approach or disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Teach your child to get an owner’s permission before petting or touching a dog.
- Teach your child to allow a dog to sniff your child’s hand before touching or petting the dog.
- Refrain from touching a dog on the top of the head. Instead, pet or scratch a dog on the side of the head or under the chin.
- If a dog displays aggressive or threatening behavior, try to place an inanimate object between you (and your family) and the dog, and slowly (do not run) retreat into a safe place, such as a car or a building.
- If you or a family member encounter or observe a stray dog, especially if it is displaying aggressive, threatening, or unusual behavior, you should contact your local animal control department or police department.
Talk to a Baltimore Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Now
If you have been injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages and financial losses caused by your injuries. Don’t wait another day to start the process of pursuing the compensation you need.
Contact the Baltimore dog bite injury lawyers at Cohen & Dwin to schedule a free initial consultation. A dog attack lawyer from our firm can explain your legal options and answer all your questions.