Dog Bite Attorneys Serving Millersville, Maryland
Dog attacks represent some of the most gruesome personal injuries that are suffered, particularly where a child is involved (as is often the case). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. Almost one in five of those who are bitten (a total of 885,000) require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries. Children are especially at risk for dog attacks. It is important to teach children to be safe around dogs to prevent these catastrophic events from occurring.
Some states have a strict liability dog bite statute that states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages inflicted by his/her dog if it bites a person who is either in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property (invitee or guest). The dog owner is liable regardless of whether the dog had ever been vicious before and regardless of whether the owner had reason to believe it would behave in a vicious manner. The dog does not get “one free bite.”
Under Maryland law, however, it must first be shown, in order to render the owner liable for damages to one bitten by his dog, that the dog had a vicious propensity, and second that such vicious propensity or inclination was known to its owner. But the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensity need only be such as to put him on his guard and to require him as an ordinarily prudent person to anticipate the act or conduct of the dog resulting in the injury for which the owner is sought to be held liable. The owner’s knowledge of the propensity of the dog may be, and most generally are, acquired from its conduct and behavior, although such knowledge may be acquired from other persons, and in some cases, the knowledge of others is imputed to the owner.McDonald v. Burgess, 254 Md. 452 (1969). In essence, the vicious dog’s owner is an insurer of the dog.
If a stray bites you, you have little legal recourse because you must file your claim against a dog’s owner or keeper. Your municipality is not responsible for the dog, even if you have called the animal warden several times to pick up the stray.
Do You Also Handle Animal Bite Cases?
Yes, we handle cases involving dog bites, animal bites, and hunting accidents. Dog bites in children are a good case because children often have scarring from animal bites. The old saying that every dog gets that one bite before the owner can be held to be liable is not exactly true because there are a lot of ordinances, local ordinances, and county ordinances.
If the dog bit someone when it was off-leash, then it would be a violation of an ordinance which would create a situation of negligence, per se. It would be a case of negligence by violation of a statute, so the person would not necessarily need to have existing or prior knowledge that the dog was vicious or had dangerous propensities.
We have handled a couple of these over time. We had a really bad one recently where a dog ran out and attacked someone on a bike. The person was in his seventies and his injuries were so severe that they changed the way he would have to live the rest of his life because he sustained multiple broken bones.
Dog bites can be really tricky because early on it would have to be established whose dog it was. A lot of times when something really bad happened, it would turn out that the dog was not registered or there was some similar issue. To establish fault in those cases it would need to be established very quickly where the dog came from, who was responsible for it and who was taking care of it.
Are Dog Bites A Common Occurrence And On What Area Of The Body Do These Injuries Typically Occur?
Dog bites do occur in a couple of areas and it is more common than people realize. They can occur on the legs because of dogs biting at the legs, but they can also occur on the hands and face. Kids who lean down and pet the dog might get nipped on the face or on the hand, and depending on the kind of dog, mauling might also occur.
For more information on Animal Bites And Personal Injury, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking and talk to Arnold F. Phillips by calling today. We serve the areas of Millersville, Cumberland, McHenry, Garrett County, and Allegany County, Maryland.