‘Tis the season for joy and merriment. But not everyone is thrilled about being crowded around at a party — or rather, not every animal. Some dogs, for example, might be just as much of a social butterfly as their owner, but other dogs can get overwhelmed and scared by too many strange people being in the house.
Unfortunately, house parties are common during the holidays, which means there are more chances of pets getting scared and acting out. In other words, your risk of being attacked and bitten by a dog increases during the holiday season, especially if you are attending lots of parties at the homes of people who have dogs.
If you are involved in a dog attack this holiday season, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. If someone’s dog bit you due to their own negligence, you may be able to file a claim against them, and our team of experienced Maryland Dog Bite Attorneys can help.
Why Do Dog Bites Happen More Often During the Holidays?
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. — more than 800,000 of which require emergency medical attention. And of those who are exposed to dogs that bite, children are most vulnerable because they are closer to a dog’s level, they are more likely to aggravate a dog, and they are more likely to be severely injured when bit.
However, anyone can be the victim of a dog attack. Even if you aren’t bothering the dog and even if the dog is ordinarily sweet and gentle, you never know what could trigger them. Holiday parties are especially problematic because it puts dogs into a more stressful environment, which can cause them to become unusually scared or aggressive.
Some of the most common causes of dog bites during holiday parties include the following:
- Crowded parties, especially with strangers the dog is unfamiliar with
- Loud noises at the party that cause the dog added stress
- People accidentally stepping on the dog or bumping into them
- Unsupervised children pestering the dog
- Hosts being distracted and leaving their dog unsupervised
- The dog being accidentally let out of a room or its cage by a guest at the party
Who is Liable for Dog Attacks in Maryland?
In Maryland, the law allows victims of dog bites to hold the dog owners responsible for their dog’s actions — in most situations. It can depend on the individual situation. But if the dog owner was negligent in some manner and failed to take reasonable precautions with their dog, they can be held liable for any harm that their dog causes.
There are essentially two theories of liability that are used in dog bite cases to hold the owner accountable:
- Strict dog bite liability: A victim of a dog bite can win their case if the dog owner knew of the vicious tendencies of their dog. For example, if the dog had previously bitten someone before, the dog owner will be held strictly liable.
- Negligent dog bite liability: In this case, the victim can win their case by using the theory of negligence, which means that the dog owner failed to take reasonable care of their dog and the person who was bitten, and their failure to do so is what led to the dog bite happening.
However, it’s important to note that dog owners primarily owe a standard of care only to their guests. If someone entered their property illegally or without permission, it may be more difficult to hold them liable.
But with holiday parties, it is generally understood that anyone in attendance was an invited guest. So if you are bitten by a dog at someone’s house during a party, you can likely hold them accountable.
Have a Legal Question About Dog Bites? We Have Answers.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury from a dog bite this holiday season, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law are here to help.
We understand the emotional and physical toll dog bite injuries can have on a person’s life, especially if the victim is a child. Our experts can answer all of your questions and guide you through the challenging process of Maryland dog bite law.