Dog Bites When the Owner Isn’t Present | Zirkin & Schmerling Law

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite That Happens When the Owner is Not Present?

who is liable for a dog bite

Dog bites happen at dog daycares, groomers, kennels, vet offices, and many other places where the owner might not be present at the moment it happens. If you were the victim of a dog bite in a situation like this, what would you do?

Sometimes There’s an Assumption of Risk – But Not Always

Certain professionals take on a level of risk when they go into animal care as a profession. Generally speaking, this includes veterinarians, vet assistants, vet technicians, animal groomers, kennel operators, kennel employees, and others who work with animals as their primary duty in employment.

This means if a dog bites a vet tech during a procedure, the dog’s owner may be able to use the assumption of risk defense. They could try to claim the tech accepted the inherent risk of being bitten during veterinary work.

However, even in situations where a certain level of risk is assumed, it doesn’t mean all risk is assumed. Certain hazards might fall outside the ordinary level of assumed risk.

For example, consider a dog that attacked someone else previously, but the owner takes the dog to the vet and doesn’t mention the prior attack. If a vet tech is mauled during the appointment, there may be an exception to the normal assumption of risk due to the dog’s known and vicious behavior.

There May Be Shared Responsibility

You may be able to hold the dog’s owner responsible, plus other parties depending on the situation. In Maryland, there may be multiple people who share some amount of responsibility for a dog bite.

Generally speaking, any of these parties could contribute responsibility:

  • The dog’s owner
  • The person who brought to the dog to a clinic or care facility
  • A dog daycare owner/worker
  • An in-home pet sitter
  • A kennel or veterinary employee
  • A property owner/manager
  • A landlord

Each involved party may be found to have no responsibility, full responsibility, or only partial responsibility. Again, it depends on the situation and this is why it’s so important to have good legal representation from a Maryland dog bite lawyer.

There’s also the issue of whether the dog was “at large” at the time of the bite. In Maryland in 2014, a new law began to help dog bite victims hold owners liable for dogs running at large by making it a form of negligence.

However, our dog bite laws in Maryland still differ from other states’ laws because dog owners aren’t held strictly liable for injuries inflicted on innocent victims. As a victim, you may or may not be compensated for your damages and your case depends on the specific details of the incident as well as the history of the dog and its owner.

A Dog Bit Me While the Owner Wasn’t There. Now What?

After a dog bite where the owner wasn’t present, there are several important reasons why you need a dog bite attorney to help you understand what to do next.

Your lawyer helps you understand your legal options. There may be several routes you can choose in terms of who you pursue for compensation. You have options to consider and your lawyer can help you make a smart choice.

Your lawyer helps you handle hearings and other legal issues. You may be called to testify at a hearing and you may need to interact with police or animal control, depending on the situation. Read more about vicious dog hearings here.

Your lawyer helps you make an insurance claim. With a lawyer’s help, you can track down any pertinent insurance, like dog liability insurance or homeowner’s insurance, to help cover the costs. This could save you a huge amount of money and help bring the situation to a resolution more quickly.

Have a Legal Question About a Dog Bite at Dog Daycare? We Have Answers

When you need to learn more about your rights, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law can help. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced dog bite lawyers today.