Is Maryland a Comparative Fault State?
Maryland is still a contributory negligence state. Pennsylvania is a comparative fault state, but there is always some degree of the component that you need to be concerned with, when it comes to comparative or contributory fault. Certainly, Maryland’s contributory state where contributory negligence would bar a claim from a plaintiff against the defendant. That is something you want to consider. It breaks down to whether or not the actual victim had knowledge of any dangerous propensities of that particular animal, and whether or not they have engaged the animal in some ways, or performed with knowledge of those risks.
An interesting case we are handling right now is an individual who knew a dog had attacked his son, and they tried to get a hold of the dog that was loose and was severely mauled in the process. The issue on that case is going to be, “What’s the contributory negligence because he knew that the dog had bitten his son”. These kinds of comparative fault evaluations always require multi-step type analysis, and in this particular case, he knew that his kids and his wife would be home very shortly after this dog had gotten out, so he would have had made sure that the dog was restrained before they got there. It is one of those things that you try, and avoid the contributory, or the comparative fault type defenses, by saying you are trying to prevent harm to another.
That is one way to avoid it. But yes, absolutely. There are comparative and contributory fault analysis that you have to do in these kinds of cases.
What Types Of Damages Can Be Recovered In A Dog Bite Case?
Any type of damages that you would typically be able to recover in any kind of personal injury claim, including dog bites may be recoverable. It should cover, past and present medical bills, past and present wages, and then cover for your pain and suffering. In general, I mean there are more things that you are going to ask for, but, most importantly, are covering your wages, and all medical bills.
How Is The Amount Of Damages Determined In A Dog Bite Case?
It is by the severity of the injuries, when we determine the amount of damages. However, when you have significant severe injuries, and if they are disabling injuries, we would typically hire a physician called a Physiologist. A physiologist gives a disability rating to the injury, and establishes some degree of permanency to that injury. This is so we can use that statement and give it to a life care planner. The life care planner can then establish what that person’s medical requirements would be for the rest of their lives. Then we also give that statement, if you look at the disability rating, to a vocational expert. The vocational expert talks about future wage loss based on the rating, because if you have some nature of disability because of the injury, you will not be able to work in the same capacity, or you will not be able to work as long, and you are entitled to have those future wages.
Vocational experts will establish this, and then a certified life care planner will establish what kind of future medical needs you would need to sustain life. You need to get a physiologist to give you a statement about what kind of disability you have, and what your needs will be later in life. So the amount of damages is determined by the severity of the injury.
Are Future Medical Expenses Considered In Damages If There Is Scarring Involved?
Yes, definitely, any future medical bills are considered damages if there is any form of scarring involved. All personal injury law is designed to make the plaintiff whole, and part of that process is to really try to get them back to what they looked like before the injury. That is part of making them whole, and some of that is having cosmetic surgery to reduce the scarring. It is definitely something that you can consider when referring to medical expenses and future medical bills. Often, surgery is very expensive, and not covered by insurance. It is not going to be covered by your run-of-the-mill health insurance. There are elective types of surgeries, and if you do not receive the money from the defendant’s insurer, or the defendant, you may not ever be able to afford it.
Does The Homeowner’s Insurance Typically Cover Damages In Dog Bite Cases?
In most home owner’s policies, there is some protection for a third party liability. There is protection for third party claims against the homeowner’s liability. The only way you can really find out for sure is to file a lawsuit, and ask for it in discovery, which is something that the individual typically cannot do himself or herself. That is how you can find out. You find out for sure by asking for their policy information, and as part of your request in the lawsuit. The only other way is to straight up ask the owner of the dog if they are insured, and to provide their policy information to you. Those are the two ways, but the most effective way to do this, is ask to file a lawsuit.
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