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Dog Bite & Animal Attack Lawyers Serving MD, DC & VA

Have you been attacked by a pit bull dog in Maryland or Virginia? Did you know that the owners of animals such as dogs have a duty, in the event their animals have a prior propensity toward violence, to undertake safety measures to prevent future attacks or dog bites? Further, in Maryland, owners may be held strictly liable for harm caused by certain dangerous breeds of dogs.

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Animal Attack Lawyers Ready to Assist You

If you have been injured in an animal attack, you may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation. Call Bob Katz Law today for a free dog bite injury consultation. As a victim of someone else’s carelessness, you may have a right to recover compensation for your injuries. We are presently accepting dog bite cases in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC Call us today at 410-576-4287.

Differences Between Dog Bite Laws in Maryland and Virginia

In the Maryland, DC, and Virginia region, it is not uncommon for people to move their residence from one state to another. Likewise, many workers live in one state and commute to work in another. It is even possible for a resident to cross state lines while walking their dog in neighborhoods like Silver Spring or Takoma Park, which are near the DC border.

Many people fail to realize that personal injury laws are often very different from one state to another. Dog bite laws, for example, are different in Virginia than they are in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Where an owner lives or where a bite occurs may affect what law applies to the lawsuit. These differences can be very important to both dog owners and dog bite victims. Below we will discuss some of the main differences in dog bite law.

Dog Bite Liability in Maryland

Under Maryland law, an injured victim may be able to recover compensation under two theories of liability; negligence or strict liability.

Negligent Dog Bite Cases in Maryland

In Maryland, a claim for negligence may be made against a negligent dog owner or caretaker where the dog’s owner or caretaker knew or had reason to know of the animal’s vicious propensity and failed to take reasonable measures to protect others from being harmed by the animal. In this regard, the types of negligence can be various and can include failure to restrain the dog, failure to obey leash law requirements, or using an improper manner of restraint (faulty yard fencing etc.)

Dog Bite Strict Liability in Maryland

Maryland Strict liability cases, on the other hand, usually arise from instances where the dog has a known dangerous propensity that has been ignored or mishandled by the animal’s owner. In these cases, regardless of whether the owner was negligent, animal owners and caretakers are strictly held responsible for any harm caused by their animals, regardless of the precautions taken. Owners of pit bulls, for example, are routinely held strictly liable in Maryland when their dogs cause harm to plaintiffs. This is generally true regardless of the owner’s knowledge of their dog’s dangerous propensity. Maryland courts have repeatedly upheld such laws, and this fact is given deference in legal statutes. In Tracy v. Solesky, for example, the Maryland Court of Appeals recently upheld imposing strict liability on dog owners for injuries caused by pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

Maryland Leash Laws

Although it has experienced significant changes in recent years, Maryland dog bite law currently hinges on whether the dog was on a leash at the time of the incident. Generally speaking:

On a Leash – If the dog bite occurred while the dog was on a leash or confined, this will create a rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous or violent. If the owner fails to rebut the presumption and the jury determines that the owner knew the dog was dangerous or violent, the owner will be liable for the injury or death.

Not on a Leash – Maryland dog bite law imposes strict liability on dog owners for personal injury or death caused by a dog of any breed while running at large.

Virginia Dog Bite Law

Virginia is an example of what is known as a “one-bite state.” Under Virginia law, every dog gets one free bite before the owner becomes liable for damages caused by the dog. If the dog has previously bitten a person or a “companion animal,” such as another dog or cat, the owner will be liable for the second bite. An owner may also be liable if they are negligent or were breaking a law, such as a local leash ordinance. Butler v. Frieden, 208 Va. 352 (Va. 1967)

Virginia has some laws similar to Maryland. Dangerous Dog Bite Law is codified in the Virginia Rules under § 3.2-6540. Control of dangerous dogs; penalties. However, unlike Maryland, Virginia does not impose automatic strict liability for certain breeds of dogs. (i.e. Pit Bulls.)  Accordingly, you should consult with an attorney if you were bitten by a dangerous dog in Virginia.

District of Columbia Dog Bite Law

District of Columbia Code Section 1812 states: “If a dog injures a person while at large, lack of knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensity standing alone shall not absolve the owner from a finding of negligence.”

This means that if a dog is running loose and bites someone, the owner cannot win a lawsuit simply by arguing that they did not know the dog was dangerous. In general, dog bites lawsuits in Washington, DC, are governed by the common law of negligence. The person who was bitten by the dog must prove that the dog owner owed them a duty, breached that duty, and that the breach caused them injury. Evidence that a dog was running at large can be offered as evidence that the owner was negligent.

Kinds of Injuries Caused by Dog Bites

The CDC has calculated that about 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Further, more than half of those bitten are children. One in five requires medical attention, and in 2012, more than 27,000 individuals had to have reconstructive plastic surgery to repair injuries caused by a dangerous dog bite.

Most Common Injuries Resulting from Dog Bites:

  • Abrasions, lacerations
  • Punctures
  • Broken Bones
  • Scarring
  • Infections (Rabies)
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

How To Make a Dog Bite Injury Claim

1. Get prompt medical treatment. – Do not wait to seek medical care if you are injured. Frequently, bite injuries left untreated can result in serious infections or even rabies.

2. Identify the animal and its owner – This is critical. If an accident happens in a public place or you don’t know the dog owner from your regular neighborhood, make sure you obtain identifying information from the owner so that a claim can be made later. Often a driver’s license is the best source of information in this regard.

3. Take photographs of the animal or the injury.

4. Obtain the name, phone number, and address of any witness to the occurrence.

5. Report the incident promptly to your local animal control department.

6. Consider calling a lawyer. (When you call Bob Katz Law for a free consultation, you will speak with an attorney who can advise you as to your specific legal rights as a dog bite victim. We will help you determine:

  • Who can be held accountable-owners, caretakers, landlords, homeowners associations
  • What kind of compensation may be available to you
  • What specific evidence should be preserved

See Our Related Blog Posts

Update – New Dog Bite Law Passed! Dog Owners Liable For At Large Bites Regardless of Breed

Maryland Legislature Considers Changing Dog Bite Law

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Maryland?

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