Being bitten by a dog can be a terrible and traumatic experience. If you or your loved one have been attacked by a dog, you need to be prepared to file a dog bite claim.
Keep in mind that filing an insurance claim is rarely the end of a dog bite case. The insurance company will try to spend as little as possible on your claim, which is why you should speak with a personal injury lawyer.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Dog Bite in Maryland
Most pets are covered as a liability under homeowner’s insurance in Maryland. That means they are not covered as property. You may be wondering how to file an insurance claim for a dog bite.
If you have been bitten by a dog that belongs to someone with homeowner’s insurance, you will need to find out the company that provides the policy and submit your claim to them.
Renter’s insurance will usually cover a dog bite, too, regardless of where the dog bite occurred. Submit your claim to the insurance company that provides the renter’s policy.
If, however, the owner of the dog that bit you is uninsured, you will need to send your demand for compensation directly to that individual or you might have a claim against the renter’s landlord..
Should You Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer?
When you’re working with an insurance company, skepticism is always warranted.
The insurance company will usually take fast action to offer you a payout. This is because they hope that you will accept whatever they offer.
Why do some people accept this money from an insurance company?
- It may look like a lot of money at first but they don’t know the seriousness of the injuries yet they don’t realize that the injuries are going to get worse
- They don’t realize that the injuries are going to be permanent
- They are worried that this will be their only chance to get compensation.
- They haven’t experienced how this injury will affect them with their loved ones
- They don’t understand how the injury will affect them at work
- They don’t understand how the injury will affect them with recreational activities
- They don’t understand the value of their case They need money right away and are worried about covering their expenses related to the attack.
Instead of immediately accepting the insurance company’s offer, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who can review your case (for free!) and help you determine the best next steps.
Who Can File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Maryland?
Let’s take a look at Maryland’s dog bite laws to understand your options after you, your child, or someone you love has been attacked by a dog.
Maryland’s legal code Section 3-1901 makes it clear that in the event of a dog attack, the owner of the dog is liable for any injury, loss of property, or death.
However, there are circumstances in which the owner is not liable. These are:
- The person who was bitten was trespassing or attempting to trespass on the owner’s property.
- The victim was bitten while committing or attempting to commit a crime on the dog owner’s property.
- The dog attack victim was provoking, teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog that attacked.
Maryland’s dog bite laws cover more than just dog bites. They also cover other forms of damages that could occur because of an interaction with a dog. For example, if you were attacked by a dog that knocked you down but didn’t bite you, you can still hold the dog owner responsible for your injuries.
Maryland’s Strict Liability Rule
Another aspect of Section 3-1901 of Maryland’s legal code is the strict liability rule.
Dog owners are responsible for damage caused by their dog even if:
- They took reasonable steps to try to prevent their dog from causing injuries
- They did not have any reason to expect their dog to behave aggressively
Is Maryland a “One-Bite” State?
States that have a “one-bite” rule do not hold dog owners liable for an attack or dog bite unless they already knew that the dog was likely to behave aggressively.
If the dog has exhibited aggression just once before–the “one bite” that the rule references–then the owner can be held liable for the next bite. However, as long as the dog hasn’t bitten or attacked before, the first bite is usually not deemed the owner’s fault.
Maryland is not a one-bite state. Instead, Maryland dog bite victims can file a claim under the strict liability statute or under a negligence cause of action. To file a claim for negligence in Maryland, the victim of the dog attack must prove the basic tenets of negligence, which are:
- The owner had a responsibility to use reasonable care and failed to do so
- The owner knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious propensity
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims in Maryland?
If you, your child, or a loved one were the victim of a dog attack, you only have three years from the date of the attack to file a claim.
After that three-year statute of limitation passes, you will be prohibited from seeking damages from the dog’s owner in the Maryland courts. The only exception is if the victim is a minor. If the dog bite victim is a minor then you have until your 21st birthday to file a lawsuit.
How to File a Dog Bite Claim with an Attorney
If you already know that the insurance company’s payout is going to be too low, your next step should be to file a dog bite claim with an attorney. In fact, the sooner you speak with a dog bite attorney, the better.
The first step to filing a claim is to meet with a personal injury attorney for a free consultation and overview of your case. If you decide to move forward, you will sign a contract for legal representation, and your lawyer can assist you in filing the claim.
Zirkin & Schmerling–Dog Bite Attorneys in Maryland
At Zirkin & Schmerling, we work on a contingency fee, which means we don’t collect any money unless you win your case. That means that working with us is worry-free and risk free.
You can review our Maryland personal injury FAQ page on our website to learn more about the personal injury lawsuit process and how we protect your rights. Contact us at 410-753-4611 or schedule a free consultation online so that we can learn about your case and help you get the compensation you are owed for damages caused by an uncontrolled dog.