Have you or a loved one suffered an attack by a vicious dog? If so, it is important to know exactly what your legal rights and options are. But the relevant law can be challenging to understand. This extensive Maryland dog bite law FAQ will give you an overview of your most pressing questions and recommendations for every stage of the process. Read on to make sure that your case is strong!
What should I do if I get bitten by a dog?
The first few hours after a dog bite are crucial. It is important that you see a doctor and follow their instructions, contact the police, document any wounds, and write down a complete account of the attack. It is critical that you determine whether the dog has rabies and that you contact your local Animal Control office. A complete explanation of what you should do in the immediate aftermath of a dog bite is beyond the scope of this Maryland dog bite FAQ. Read our in-depth article on what to do if you get bit by a dog in Maryland to learn more.
Should I call the police?
Yes, you should immediately call the police and your local Animal Control office in order to file a report. They can also help to make sure that the dog that bit you is current on their rabies shots and vaccines.
Should I contact Animal Control?
You should absolutely contact your local Animal Control office. It is crucial that you know the dog’s rabies status and document exactly what happened. Animal Control may be able to provide information about prior incidents that will be helpful to your case. More importantly, they want to know about any vicious animal that might be a danger to the community. Check out our list of shelters and animal control offices in Maryland for more information.
Does it matter if the dog that attacked me was running loose?
Yes. Generally, the owner of the dog is liable for damages caused by a dog who is running loose. It is important that you contact Animal Control and the local police and make sure that they have this information about the circumstances of the dog bite. Current law now holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by a dog who is running loose.
What shots do I need after a dog bite?
Your doctor will be able to determine which shots you need. Dog bite victims usually need antibiotics and a tetanus shot to prevent infections. If the dog that bit you is not up to date on its rabies vaccinations, you may need preventive medical treatment as well.
How do I make sure that the dog has been vaccinated?
You should seek medical attention immediately and contact Animal Control. If you know the dog’s owner, find out if it has a current rabies shot and write down the rabies tag number. If the owner refuses to give you this information, alert Animal Control, your medical provider, and the local police.
How do I make sure that the dog doesn’t bite anyone else?
Under dog bite law in Maryland, you have no influence on what happens to the dog following the bite. The best thing you can do to protect future victims is to make a claim and contact Animal Control. Filing a lawsuit alerts the dog’s owner that their animal is dangerous and ensures they will be held liable should anything similar happen in the future. Animal Control may declare a dog to be dangerous or put restrictions on the owner, requiring them to use a muzzle or undergo training. There is a separate proceeding for Animal Control to declare a dog to be dangerous.
Should I speak with an insurance company?
Do NOT speak to an insurance company or any representative of any insurance company until you have spoken with an attorney. This is one of the most important recommendations you should take away from this Maryland dog bite law FAQ. If you are contacted, simply take down their name or number and inform them that you will be represented by legal counsel. Your attorney will contact them when it is appropriate to do so.
Will health insurance cover my injuries?
Your health insurance should cover any medical bills. After a case is completed, the insurer may wish to subrogate the claim or be reimbursed for their expenses. This process takes time, and you won’t want to be stuck with unpaid bills while litigation is pending.
Will the dog owner personally have to pay for my medical bills?
According to dog bite negligence and strict liability in Maryland, dog bites are covered by homeowner’s and renter’s insurance unless they are excluded from coverage. The owner may owe the difference if damages exceed the policy limit, but this is quite rare. Just as car accidents are covered by automobile insurance, dog bites are covered by homeowner’s and renter’s insurance.
If you feel like you need some legal help, contact our Dog Bite Law attorney to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Do all homeowners and renters insurance policies cover dog bites?
Dog bites are generally covered by the dog owner’s or landlord’s policy, but not every homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers all dog bites. Some policies exclude coverage from certain breeds, such as pit bulls, but the owner is not obligated to disclose this information to the victim. Your attorneys will eventually uncover this relevant information during litigation.
How long do I have to make a claim and file a lawsuit?
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is 3 years. For a child who has been the victim of a dog bite, the statute of limitations is 3 years past their 18th birthday, or the age of 21. If a suit has to be brought against the state, local, or municipal government (which is rare), official “notice” must be provided within a year of the injury. It is critical that you adhere to the statute of limitations, or else you risk losing the ability to file.
What is the value of my case?
Most people immediately start wondering, “how much is my dog bite case worth in Maryland?” The value of any case is based on a number of factors, such as economic damages like medical bills and non-economic damages like pain, suffering, and the loss of enjoyment. However, this simple Maryland dog bite law FAQ cannot convey the complexity of this process. A judge or jury will ultimately decide the value of your dog bite case through the litigation process.
Is there a limit to the damages I may be awarded for this case?
There are no damage caps in Maryland for economic damages. “Fair, reasonable, and necessarily incurred” economic damages are awarded, including medical bills, future medical needs, and lost wages. However, there is a cap on the award for non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment, which adjusts yearly for cost of living.
Can I recover for future surgeries or other future medical bills?
Yes, future medical bills and surgeries are considered “fair, reasonable, and necessarily incurred” economic damages. There is no cap on economic damages in Maryland.
Can I recover my lost wages from work?
Yes, Maryland law allows you to recover lost wages as an economic damage. However, the final judgment on this matter is made by a judge or jury during litigation. As mentioned earlier in this Maryland dog bite FAQ, every case is unique and the decision in one case may not play out exactly the same as another.
Should I bring an attorney with me to a vicious dog hearing?
If the attacking dog is being brought before a local hearing board, you should definitely bring an attorney with you. Statements made at the Animal Control board hearing may help or hurt your lawsuit against the dog owner’s insurance company. The hearing may also supply valuable information for your dog bite claim.
What should I do if my dog was injured by another dog?
If another dog has attacked your dog, you may recover economic damages from the attacking dog owner’s insurance company, including veterinary bills. In Maryland, a pet is legally considered personal property. Other states treat pets differently and permit damages such as suffering and loss of companionship.
Do I have a valid lawsuit for my dog bite case?
If a dog has bitten you, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. This is accomplished by filing a personal injury claim. In addition to the medical expenses incurred while treating your dog bite, you may also receive compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, future medical bills, future lost wages, and other expenses.
It is vital that you contact an experienced dog bite attorney to protect your legal rights. Contact the attorneys at the Zirkin and Schmerling Law at 410-753-4611 today. We hope that this Maryland dog bite law FAQ has been helpful as you decide what steps to take.