DOG BITE CASE SETTLEMENT RESULTS
How Can I Find The Best Maryland Dog Bite Lawyers?
Every day, more than 9,500 people in the U.S. require hospitalization due to common dog bite injuries, and 1,000 of those victims require intensive emergency care. The average cost of their hospital treatment is more than $18,000, up over 103% in the past ten years.
Maryland’s dog bite laws are complex, and victims aren’t always the priority. Most people do not have the time to thoroughly research their rights when filing dog bite claims and to understand the potential for the average dog bite injury claim. This is why you need experienced Maryland dog bite attorneys on your side when pursuing dog bite settlements.
Choosing a Dog Bite Lawyer
Experience. While an attorney of any background can defend you in court, an experienced attorney will present the best case for dog bite settlements. Does the attorney have experience and familiarity specific to dog bite claims and Maryland dog bite laws?
Results. An experienced dog bite attorney has a solid history of getting positive results for their clients. They should be able to present past cases, verdicts they attained, and the average dog bite settlement amount for clients involved in a dog bite claim. Zirkin & Schmerling has an established reputation and proven track record for getting dog bite settlement amounts that fairly compensate our clients for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from dog bite injuries.
Reputation. Referrals from outside sources speak louder than any attorney’s pitch. Talk to people you know who have used various attorneys for their dog bite settlement. Ask your veterinarian, Animal Control officers, or even a dog owner you trust.
We Get Results
If you or a loved one has been injured, you want to call a firm with an impressive track record of winning dog bite cases in the state of Maryland.
$132,322 Dog Bite Settlement
The victim exited her home and walked to her car parked in a shared alleyway behind the structure. As she entered the car, her neighbor’s dog suddenly attacked and bit her leg. One of the dog’s owners had allowed her pet to roam free in the alley between her home and the victims, resulting in the German Shepherd attacking without provocation. The victim suffered serious puncture injuries that required medical attention. Our client was awarded a sizable settlement by a jury. Bobby Zirkin of Zirkin & Schmerling Law fought on behalf of the victim and secured her a $132,322 settlement for her injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Although the victim initially won her civil complaint against the dog’s owners, the defendants filed an appeal in the Appellate Court of Maryland. The appeals court upheld the jury’s decision and established an important precedent for future dog bite cases.
$459,006.86 Dog Bite Settlement
A 26 year old woman was visiting her friend. While at her house, her friend’s dog jumped up and bit her in the face. Her face started bleeding uncontrollably. She went to the hospital immediately and had 30 stitches put into her face. In addition, she had follow up surgery to help heal and fix scarring and make her face look as good as they could. Our dog bite attorneys worked tirelessly on this case for three and a half years, and were finally victorious with a judgement of $459,006.86.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?
Although only about one in five people bitten by dogs require medical attention, the aftermath can be chaotic. When in doubt, follow these steps after dog bite incidents:
- Get medical care
- Document your injuries and the scene
- Get contact information
- Contact your local police department
- Contact a Maryland dog bite attorney
Your personal injury lawyer can advise you on a wide range of legal matters, including those related to your future medical expenses, emotional distress, legal options, dog owner’s liability, the amount of the average dog bite settlement, and the hidden risks involved with specific actions like sharing details of your attack on social media.
Will The Insurance Company Help Me?
You may feel pressured by your insurance company or the dog’s owner’s insurance coverage to settle the case quickly and accept a modest payment for injuries caused.
Before discussing your options with a Maryland dog bite lawyer, never accept any payment for your bite injury. Doing so could end your ability to seek the average dog bite settlement you need to recover from the attack.
If you need help with the legal process following your serious injuries, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Zirkin & Schmerling Law Firm to schedule a free consultation today for formal legal advice from our expert dog bite attorneys.
Who Is Liable After a Dog Bite?
You may be surprised to learn that the Maryland dog bite injury law doesn’t always name owners in dog bite liability for their dog’s vicious behavior. Certain circumstances must be proven for the owner to be held legally and financially responsible for your physical pain and injuries.
You may be able to establish a dog owner’s strict liability if you can prove that the owner showed disregard for local laws or otherwise failed to protect innocent people from dog bites from their pets. In addition, if the dog owners should reasonably have known that their dog was dangerous for any reason – including a history of aggressive behavior – they are strictly liable for any damage caused by their dog’s aggressive behavior.
States previously practiced a one bite rule regarding dog attacks. An owner was allowed “one bite” because they may not have known that their dog would attack. The one bite rule proved to be faulty because an owner could purposely use their dog to harm someone and not be held liable. Maryland does not practice the one bite rule and owners can be held liable even if it is the first time their dog attacked.
Also, the dog’s owner isn’t the only person who may be held responsible for your serious injuries. Other people may have partial or strict liability.
Other parties responsible for physical injuries caused by an aggressive dog may include:
- A pet sitter or caretaker
- The parents of a minor canine owner
- Property owners
Maryland dog bite law may hold your landlord responsible for a dog bite on their property if you are a renter. In most cases, you must prove that the landlord knew that a dangerous dog lived on their property, could have done something about it, and failed to do so.
Does Breed Matter In Dog Bite Claims?
If you are bitten by a specific breed of dog, like a Pit Bull or German shepherd, you may wonder if there are any laws about owning a particular dog breed. Since 2014, Maryland has operated according to “breed neutrality,” meaning that no dog breed is automatically considered dangerous. The strict liability laws focus more on the circumstances of the dog attack and the damage done.
What Is Considered a Dog Bite in Maryland?
In Maryland, you may be eligible for a dog bite settlement if you’ve suffered any bite or injury caused by a dog attack. This includes a case where a dog knocks a person down and suffers injuries. The bite must be considered “severe” for a lawsuit to be filed.
Children are the most vulnerable victims because of their small size. Dogs are also common dog bite victims. Under the law, your dog is your personal property. If another dog bites your dog, you may be able to sue the owner for the veterinary bills you incurred.
If a dog is running loose, generally, strict liability lies with the dog owners. Note how the dog attack occurred and where the victim and the attacking dog stood. Thoroughly document the area with photos and record any input from witnesses and their contact information to report to the dog owner’s insurer, if applicable.
What Are The Most Common Types of Injuries From a Dog Bite?
The most common injuries from a dog bite include lacerations and broken bones. These may come directly from the bite, or from being knocked down during the attack.
The age of the victim may determine the recovery rate and scar tissue. Older adults may be at a higher disposition to suffer broken bones. Either way, there can be pain and suffering including emotional damage that lasts after the attack or becomes a lifelong struggle for the victims of dog bite cases.
Here are a few common injuries of dog bite cases:
- Abrasions: Superficial scrapes or skin rubbing
- Laceration: Deep cuts or tears in the skin
- Puncture: Puncture wounds occur when the dog’s teeth pierce the skin
- Infection: About 10 to 15% of dog bites lead to infections
- Rabies: Owners should be able to provide the dog’s vaccination history
- Tetanus: An infection resulting from the trauma of the bite
- Crushing injuries: Crushing injuries aren’t always visible from the outside, and you will need a medical evaluation to determine the extent of the damage
- Avulsion: Avulsion refers to tearing skin or tissue away from the body
- Scarring: Scarring may occur directly from the dog bite or due to procedures the victim undergoes after the attack
- Nerve Damage: Depending on the location and depth of the wound, it is possible to experience permanent or temporary nerve damage often requiring physical therapy
- Traumatic brain injury: Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, occur when a bump or blow to the head results in a disruption in normal brain function leading to high rehabilitation costs
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A dog bite can trigger PTSD. Symptoms include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative mood swings, guilt, irrational thoughts and fears, recurring nightmares, loss of sleep, and memory problems.
- Death: In the past 15 years, more than 470 Americans have died due to dog attacks.
What Is The Average Settlement of a Dog Bite Case?
There is no way to determine how much compensation you may see since every animal attack case is unique, and every judge or jury approaches their decision differently. However, a few essential variables appear in most dog bite cases seen by our law firm.
- Economic damages: You may be awarded medical costs, lost wages, and other costs explicitly related to a dog biting you in your dog bite settlement amount.
- Non-economic damages: This includes compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, plus the damage to the quality of your life since the injury according to the state dog bite laws.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages may occur as part of the dog bite settlement amount if the owner is reckless. An example of recklessness might be training a dog to fight and having that dog present with children or situations where harm could come to others.
For more information about your dog bite settlement worth, please read this detailed analysis.
Are There Any Limits to Dog Bite Damages?
There are no restrictions in Maryland for economic damages. According to Maryland law, “fair, reasonable, and necessarily incurred” economic damages, including medical bills, future medical costs, and lost wages, can be awarded. However, maximum compensation for non-economic damages is adjusted yearly for the cost of living.
Who Pays For Dog Bite Injuries?
Your health insurance may cover your medical bills, but you can request reimbursement for these costs as part of your dog bite claim. In Maryland, some homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover strict liability and negligence. These general policies may even cover injuries if the dog is not on the homeowner’s property.
Maryland’s average dog bite settlement is $30,500 per claim, and the United States spends roughly $1 billion a year in medical costs from animal attacks. If the cost of your expenses exceeds the insurance coverage, the owner may be asked to pay the difference.
Dog Owners: Protect Yourself From The Risk of Dog Bites
You can protect yourself and your pet from the risk of dog bites. Never allow your dog to run loose in the community; you could be held liable for their actions if they harm a person or another dog. Follow all local pet ordinances, including leash laws.
Dog Liability Insurance: Consider dog liability insurance if you have a dog breed commonly excluded from insurance policies, want to supplement your home insurance coverage, or if your dog has a history of biting.
Consider the Breed and Home Environment: If you’re considering getting a dog, it’s a good idea to carefully choose the type of dog and match it to the environment. Keep in mind:
- Certain breeds are more likely to bite and are more likely to be excluded from insurance policies. However, Maryland is a “breed-neutral” state, which means the breed of the dog isn’t necessarily relevant in a dog bite case.
- Observe the dog’s behavior around children and other pets.
- Dog owners should give the dog socialization opportunities to familiarize them with appropriate behavior.
Reducing the Risk: Once you’ve adequately selected the right dog for your family, home, and environment:
- Socialize your dog by introducing it to people and other pets.
- Consider investing in professional training and socialization sessions to encourage good behavior from your dog.
What Happens to the Dog if a Claim is Filed?
You can’t control what happens to the dog after an incident. The authorities involved will follow laws enacted by the state of Maryland and your county.
A civil lawsuit does not determine the outcome of the dog and is primarily focused on the injury event, its costs, and damages. As the victim, you can file a claim and contact Animal Control to establish a recorded history of the animal’s behavior. The lawsuit also helps document the dangerous event and warns against future possibilities.
County regulations vary, but Animal Control may require that in the future, dog owners use a muzzle when the dog is in public or undergoes training. These decisions are separate from the dog bite lawsuit.
We strongly recommend getting an attorney if the dog is being brought before a local hearing board for a vicious dog hearing. Statements made in the hearing may help or hurt your lawsuit.
Will the Dog’s Owner Face Criminal Charges?
In general, a dog owner would face criminal charges if their dog was classified as a “dangerous dog” due to a previous incident but failed to follow through on their requirements afterward. If a dog or owner with a dangerous dog violates one of the requirements – like keeping the dog on their property and using a muzzle or restraint when off the property – the owner may be charged with a misdemeanor.
A “dangerous dog” is classified as a dog that has killed or inflicted severe injury or a dog that was previously classified as a “potentially dangerous” dog but then bit, killed, or injured a person or animal. The state or local prosecutor may file criminal charges, and penalties can include imprisonment or fines.
Is it Possible That I Won’t Receive Compensation?
The maximum dog bite lawsuit payout can’t be guaranteed after a dog attack. While the dog owner and landlord are responsible for most situations according to Maryland dog bite law, there are a few situations where the dog bite victim may be unable to recover the average dog bite payout.
In the average dog bite settlement, the owner is not liable if the injured person was:
- Trespassing or attempting to trespass onto the property where the dog was located.
- Committing or attempting to commit a crime on the property.
- Committing or attempting to commit a crime against another person.
- Purposefully provoking, abusing, teasing, or tormenting the dog.
Exceptions: A four-year-old or younger victim cannot be named guilty of negligence under any circumstances in the average dog bite settlement. A victim of five years or older can only be negligent if they failed to act reasonably for a person of similar age, intelligence, and experience under similar situations. Also, regardless of age, if a dog owner invites you to the property or to interact with the dog, it is generally reasonable to believe that the dog is safe.
How Long Do You Have to File Dog Bite Claims?
The statute of limitations in Maryland for personal injury cases is up to three years. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within those three years, you likely won’t be able to recover fees and costs resulting from the injury and medical treatment.
However, there is an exception to this Maryland rule. Bite victims who are children at the time of the dog bite have three years past their 18th birthday, or up to the age of 21, to file for a dog bite settlement.
Contact Zirkin & Schmerling: Maryland Dog Bite Lawyers
Having an excellent and experienced team of personal injury attorneys, like Zirkin & Schmerling, can mean a difference of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for your dog bite settlement. Our team is dedicated to supporting you and your quality of life after experiencing a dog bite injury by helping you receive your maximum compensation. Contact us today – 410-753-4611.