Recently, a woman was awarded a sizable settlement by a jury after she was bit by an unrestrained German Shepherd. Bobby Zirkin of Zirkin & Schmerling Law fought on behalf of the victim and secured her a $132,322 settlement for her injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Although the victim initially won her civil complaint against the dog’s owners, the defendants filed an appeal in the Appellate Court of Maryland. The appeals court upheld the jury’s decision and established an important precedent for future dog bite cases.
In this blog, we unpack details regarding the Baltimore dog bite incident as well as the implications of the Appellate Court’s decision.
Dog Attack in Baltimore
Although the case came to a close in late September 2023, the incident of the dog bite attack occurred in 2018. Shockingly, the incident happened just outside of the victim’s home.
The victim exited her home and walked to her car parked in a shared alleyway behind the structure. As she entered the car, her neighbor’s dog suddenly attacked and bit her leg. One of the dog’s owners had allowed her pet to roam free in the alley between her home and the victims, resulting in the German Shepherd attacking without provocation. The victim suffered serious puncture injuries that required medical attention.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injury in Baltimore
Long after her attack, the victim continued suffering from the dog bite incident. She felt ongoing pain and numbness at the puncture sites even a year after the incident, and she struggled with a newfound phobia of dogs rooted in her trauma. On top of her physical and emotional pain, she had a difficult time working as a direct result of her injury. The bite impacted her ability to stand for long durations, which affected her work.
Due to her serious damages, the victim filed a civil complaint against the dog’s owners partially under Maryland Code §3-1901. The Code states:
“The owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, while the dog is running at large.”
There are exceptions to this Code, such as if the victim provoked the dog or was committing a crime at the time. In this case, however, the dog attacked unprompted. The victim won the initial complaint, and the jury awarded her $132,322, a sum that the appellate judge later stated was reasonable due to her damages.
Defining “Running at Large”
The defendants filed an appeal due to the phrase in the Maryland Code “running at large,” which the statute does not explicitly define. Upon reviewing the meaning of the basic phrase, the Appellate Court determined that the German Shepherd was “running at large” at the time of the attack. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “running at large” to mean “free, unrestrained, or not under control.” The German Shepherd was “running at large” based on this definition.
Explicitly stating the definition of “running at large” in Maryland Code §3-1901 established an important precedent for future dog bite cases. Those who suffer injuries due to a loose dog can refer to this case. As long as they weren’t trespassing, breaking the law, or provoking the animal at the time of the attack, those injured by loose dogs can hold owners accountable for medical bills and other damages.
Bit By a Dog? Contact Zirkin & Schmerling Today
If you or a loved one were injured by a dog, don’t wait to file a claim against the liable owners. In Maryland, you have three years to file a dog injury claim after the incident, but these cases often require a great deal of time and effort to build. You’ll need to prove that the dog owners were liable for your injuries and that you suffered damages directly related to the incident.
Further, it’s important that you contact an experienced dog bite personal injury attorney who can assist with your case. Your attorney will fight on your behalf to secure you the most compensation possible for your damages, which may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and more.
For Maryland dog bite attorneys with a proven track record, contact Zirkin & Schmerling Law. We’ve helped numerous dog bite victims recover favorable settlements and will fight to do the same for you. Schedule your free case consultation today online or by calling 410-753-4611.