According to the CDC, around 45% of US households own a dog. And while many of those animals are well-trained and taken care of, there is no way to guarantee that any dog won’t attack or bite under certain circumstances. Even dogs that are typically friendly can bite if they are scared or feel threatened.
Unfortunately, when dogs do bite, the consequences can be severe. Around 1 in 5 dog bites require medical attention, which is estimated at approximately 800,000 people seeking medical treatment for dog bites every year. And even the most minor dog bites can cause problems, as most dogs carry bacteria in their mouths, meaning bites can easily get infected.
There are also diseases to worry about with dog bites, like rabies. So if a dog bites you, no matter how minor the injury might seem, you should always seek immediate medical attention just to be safe.
Furthermore, when you do seek medical treatment, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your medical bills and other damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. However, whether or not you are awarded the compensation you need will depend on your ability to prove that another party was liable for the dog and its attack on you.
At Zirkin & Schmerling, our Maryland dog bite lawyers have handled numerous dog bite cases. If you need help proving fault and recovering compensation for your dog bite injuries, we can help.
Maryland Dog Bite Laws
The law in Maryland does allow victims of dog bites to pursue injury claims against the dog owner. However, you cannot simply point the finger at someone and claim they are responsible without providing evidence.
That being said, Maryland is a “strict liability” dog bite law state. This means the owner can be held financially liable for damages caused by their dog—including medical bills for injuries—even if their dog previously showed no signs of aggression.
Still, there are certain defenses the owner can make to deny liability.
For example, if you were trespassing on the owner’s property when the dog bit you, you may not be able tohold the owner responsible. But if the dog was at large and came up and bit you when you were doing nothing to provoke it, then the owner will likely be held responsible..
Dog Bite Injuries
The specific injury caused by a dog attack can vary depending on the circumstances. However, most dog attacks involve bites that lead to puncture wounds, lacerations, and bruising.
If the dog attacks and causes a person to fall over, however, other kinds of injuries can be sustained from the fall, such as abrasions and broken bones. If a dog is strong enough, their bite can even break or crush the more delicate bones in the body, depending on where on the body the bite occurred.
How Long Does it Take for a Dog Bite to Heal?
The healing process of a dog bite can vary greatly. It depends on the severity of the injury and the person who was attacked. Some people heal more quickly than others, especially if they are young and healthy.
The healing time may only take a week or two for more minor dog bites. However, if the injury is more severe, it can take several months to heal. And depending on the injury, the person might also sustain permanent damage and have severe scarring for the rest of their life.
What Are the Signs of Infection After a Dog Bite?
When it comes to dog bites, infection is one of the biggest concerns. Around 10 to 15% of dog bites, even minor ones, become infected. This is because dogs carry bacteria in their mouths, which enter the layers of skin when they bite a person. When this happens, the bacteria can easily multiply, leading to an infection.
Signs that a dog bite may be infected can include:
- Redness, pain, and swelling
- Pus oozing from the wound
- Tenderness or loss of sensation around the bite
- Red streaks near the bite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever and chills
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle weakness
How Can You Tell if a Dog Has Rabies After Biting?
Rabies is another concern when a dog bites a person. Rabies is considered one of the worst viral diseases affecting animals like dogs. It is a fatal disease and can easily be transmitted to other animals and humans through bites. This is why rabies vaccinations for animals are so important.
Signs that a dog might have rabies can include:
- Changes in behavior, such as becoming agitated when previously shy or becoming shy when previously more active
- Becoming extremely aggressive and rabid
- Depraved appetite
- Eating dirt and rocks
What to Do if Bitten By a Dog in Maryland
The steps you take following a dog bite are essential to your health, safety, and overall well-being. Additionally, they can also play a role in the success of your case. Though Maryland has strict dog bite liability laws, you will still need some evidence to prove that you were attacked and bitten by the dog of the person you are filing a claim against.
What to do if bitten by a dog:
- Identify the dog owner or person responsible for the dog and get their contact information.
- Document your injuries and the incident by taking photos or videos of the dog, the dog owner, and your injuries at the scene where the attack occurred.
- Get contact information from anyone who may have witnessed what happened.
- Seek medical attention, either by going to the ER if it is an emergency or urgent care.
- Keep copies of all medical documentation showing the treatment of your injuries.
- Report the incident to animal control and the police and ask that a report be written about the incident. .
- Contact a Maryland dog bite lawyer to discuss your claim and build a strong case to ensure you are compensated fairly.
Can You Get Compensation for a Dog Bite?
Yes, you can file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for a dog bite in Maryland. In Maryland the dog owner usually will have renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance that will provide compensation for the injuries sustained by the victim.
Maryland recognizes the right to recover both economic and noneconomic damages for dog bites, which will ultimately determine the value of your case and how much you are owed.
Economic damages can include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Future medical expenses
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the dog bite injury
Noneconomic damages can include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Reduced quality of life
- Permanent impairment or disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
Have a Legal Question About Dog Bites? We Have Answers.
If you or a loved one have been attacked and bitten by a dog, 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 your questions and guide you through the challenging Maryland dog bite law process. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our dog bite attorneys today.