Dog Bite

Dog Bite Lawyer in Landover

In the United States, somebody seeks medical attention every 40 seconds for dog bites. In fact, there are about 800,000 bites per year on the continent that require medical attention. The majority of dog bite victims are children, and most suffer bites in their face. Dog bites in Landover can inflict abrasions, cuts, crushing wounds, lacerations, fractured bones, and punctures. Often, the wounds can lead to lasting and disfiguring scars. Unfortunately, dog bites are becoming more common because of the influx of dog owners and interaction of people and dogs. However, Landover has statutes in place to deal with dog bite cases that you should discuss with your dog bite lawyer.

The Law on Dog Bites

Under Section 3-1901, it is stated that a dog owner is liable for death, injury, or loss to a person or property that is caused by the dog when it is running at large. But, a dog owner is not considered liable if the injured person was:

  • Attempting to commit or committing another crime on the dog owner’s property
  • Attempting to trespass or trespassing on the dog owner’s property
  • Abusing, tormenting, provoking, or teasing the dog
  • Attempting to commit or committing a criminal offense against someone else

The local law covers not just injuries inflicted by a bite, but also those injuries inflicted by any other kind of adverse dog behavior. For instance, if a pedestrian is taking a walk in a park and a dog runs up and jumps on him or her, causing the pedestrian to fall over and break their arm, the owner can be held liable.

Understanding Dog Bite Injury Laws

In the United States, many states have strict dog bite laws, and Landover, in the state of Maryland are no exception. Dog owners, by law, have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their dog is not a hazard to our community. However, circumstances surrounding bite incidents matter, since liability can be found under two different legal theories: negligence and strict liability.

The courts in Landover, MD will consider whether or not the dog owner was aware that the dog had dangerous tendencies. Under local law, a dog owner may be held strictly liable for any personal injuries their domestic pet causes under the one-bite rule. Under this rule, once the owner’s dog has bitten someone, no matter how long ago it may have been, the dog is classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous. Dogs that have a history of unprovoked attacks on other animals may be classified as potentially dangerous, too. If such a dog causes another injury to someone, the owner should have known that additional caution should have been exercised, and the owner can, therefore, be held strictly liable for the incident.

Further, if strict liability does not apply, the owner could still be held responsible for the acts of his or her dogs under the theory of negligence. Under this theory, an owner whose dog has never before bitten someone can still be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

The One Bite Rule and Strict Liability

In Landover, the strict liability rule is adhered to, which means dog owners are responsible for damages caused by their pet’s behavior, even if the owner didn’t know the dog had a tendency to act aggressively and even if the owner exercised reasonable care to prevent their dog from causing injuries.

There are some states that do not adhere to the strict liability rule, instead opting for the one bite rule. Under this rule, if the dog owner did exercise reasonable care, he or she will not typically be held liable unless he or she did know that the dog could act aggressively because, for example, the dog has injured or bitten someone previously.

The local law includes a rebuttable presupposition that if the owner’s dog hurts or even killed a person previously, the owner either knew or should have known that the pet was dangerous. So, if there is evidence that the owner’s dog has harmed someone before, the court presumes that the owner was aware of the fact that the dog was likely to hurt someone again unless the owner can prove otherwise.

A person injured by a dog can bring a claim under the rules for negligence or strict liability statute with the help of a dog bite lawyer. In the instance of a negligence claim, the victim’s dog bite lawyer has to show that the owner had a duty to carry out reasonable care but failed to. In other words, the owner failed to properly restrain or control the dog, and it led to injuries.

Dog Bite Cases and Negligence in Landover

The state of Maryland does not currently have a law that allows for civil penalties in dog bite cases in Landover, so litigation for such an injury is typically held under the common law of negligence. To seek compensation for injuries, the victim has to prove that the owner’s lack of reasonable care was the cause of the dog bite. The same goes for other dog-related injuries, and not just bites, including harm, suffered from falling when a large dog knocked the victim over.

For the victim to claim damages, he or she has to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent. To prove this negligence, four elements have to be present in the case, namely:

  • Damages
  • Causation
  • Breach
  • Duty

For instance, if the dog owner invited the victim onto the premises, he or she had a duty to protect the person from the dog. Failing to control the dog means the owner breached their responsibility. As a result of that breach, the victim suffers injuries when bitten. But, if the attack occurred on the dog owner’s property and the victim didn’t have permission to be on the property, he or she is not entitled to recover compensation.

Factors like contributory negligence make things somewhat more complex. For example, if a person is invited onto the premises by the owner, but he or she then teases the dog or intentionally goes into a closed-off section of the property, he or she cannot claim damages.

The Statute of Limitations on Dog Bites in Landover

In Landover, the strict liability rule is adhered to, which means dog owners are responsible for damages caused by their pet’s behavior, even if the owner didn’t know the dog had a tendency to act aggressively and even if the owner exercised reasonable care to prevent their dog from causing injuries.

There are some states that do not adhere to the strict liability rule, instead opting for the one bite rule. Under this rule, if the dog owner did exercise reasonable care, he or she will not typically be held liable unless he or she did know that the dog could act aggressively because, for example, the dog has injured or bitten someone previously.

The local law includes a rebuttable presupposition that if the owner’s dog hurts or even killed a person previously, the owner either knew or should have known that the pet was dangerous. So, if there is evidence that the owner’s dog has harmed someone before, the court presumes that the owner was aware of the fact that the dog was likely to hurt someone again unless the owner can prove otherwise.

A person injured by a dog can bring a claim under the rules for negligence or strict liability statute with the help of a dog bite lawyer. In the instance of a negligence claim, the victim has to show that the owner had a duty to carry out reasonable care but failed to. In other words, the owner failed to properly restrain or control the dog, and it led to injuries.

Under the state’s personal injury law relating to dog bites, victims have up to three years from the date of the attack to file a lawsuit. If the victim fails to bring an action within that time frame, they are likely to be prohibited from filing a suit and seeking compensation.

Criminal Charges for Claims in Cases of Dog Bites

If a dog injures or kills somebody, the owner of the dog could face criminal charges, as well as a civil lawsuit, if the dog is considered potentially dangerous or dangerous. A dangerous dog is one that:

  • Was classified as potentially dangerous, then injured, bit, or killed another domestic animal while off the owner’s property, or carried out an attack without being provoked;
  • Has inflicted severe injury or killed a person without provocation

Those people who own dangerous dogs are obliged to follow several rules. For example, they are required to keep their dog on their own property and must restrain and muzzle the dog when it travels off the property. Any owner who violates the rules can be charged with a misdemeanor.

What’s more, dog owners can face criminal charges related to the actual attack, if the dangerous dog causes death or severe injury. A criminal charge is different to a civil lawsuit in two main ways. Firstly, criminal charges are filed by the state or the local prosecutor and have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas a civil lawsuit is filed by the victim and the owner’s liability has to be established by a preponderance of the evidence. Secondly, in the instance of a criminal dog bite case, a conviction could see the owner face penalties such as fines or time in prison. On the other hand, in a civil lawsuit, an owner’s liability is expressed only regarding financial damages.

Defending a Dog Bite Claim in Landover

When a dog owner is sued after their dog caused injury, the owner can bring a number of legal defenses to the claim. Our dog bite statute comprises three of the most common defenses raised in such cases, including:

  • That the victim was trespassing
  • That the victim was attempting to commit a crime
  • That the victim provoked the dog

A dog owner may also be able to raise the defense of contributory negligence. In such defense, the owner will argue that the injured person was either wholly or partially responsible for the injuries. If the dog owner can show that the injured person shared even a tiny amount of responsibility for the injury, the victim is not able to recover damages. Ask your dog bite lawyer for more information about contributory negligence if you believe it may apply to your case.

New Breed-Neutral Statute in Landover

Dog bite laws changed in the state on April 8, 2014. Now, those who own or control pit bull and pit bull mixes are no longer held strictly liable because of the dog’s breed. Strict liability means an owner is liable for harm even without intentional or negligent behavior.

Between 2012 and 2014, courts held that strict liability was based on a dog owner’s knowledge that they owned a pitbull or pitbull mix, and this breed was found to be inherently dangerous, even if an individual dog never showed vicious propensities.

However, in 2014, legislature enacted a new dog bite law in response to the Court of Appeals opinion of 2012. The new bill was backed by both dog owners and advocates of pit bulls, as well as landlords. While the legislation reportedly took two years of negotiation to finalize, it was widely supported. Now, all dog owners are required to protect victims of dog bites, regardless of the dog’s breed.

It is important that a local victim of a dog attack, or the survivors of such, seek the legal advice of an experienced dog bite lawyer. Legal counsel is knowledgeable of the recent changes in the law and how those changes impact lawsuits against both dog owners and landlords for damages and insurance claims. A skilled dog bite lawyer will advise a victim and owner of their rights and potential legal remedies.

What to Do If a Dog Attacks You in Landover

The first thing is to be sure that a dog is really about to attack. Use your jacket, shirt, or a purse to draw the animal’s attention away from other vital parts of your body. If the dog pounces at you, try not to reflexively put out your arms to shield yourself. Rather, wrap a shirt around your forearm for protection, if you have the time to do so, and aim to protect your radial and ulna.

Signals a dog will give before attacking include snarling, baring teeth, growling,  or a small freeze or a moment of tension.

If you do find yourself in a situation with a dog coming aggressively towards you and you have enough time to react here is what you should do:

  • Avoid eye contact with the dog
  • Cross your arms
  • Slowly turn your body to the side
  • Ignore the dog completely
  • Move away slowly
  • Try to put a barrier between the dog and you
  • Calmly ask someone close by for help and try to avoid shouting
  • If you are on the ground, curl slowly into a ball on your knees and clasp your hands behind your neck to protect your throat and head
  • Contact emergency response and a dog bite lawyer if you have been injured

Contact a Landover Dog Bite Lawyer Today

Navigating dog bite litigation is a daunting process. The experienced dog bite lawyer at Ashcraft & Gerel will help to protect your right and seek the compensation you deserve.

 

4301 Garden City Dr #301, Landover, MD 20785

Ashcraft & Gerel

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