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Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

For centuries, dogs have been considered man’s best friend. Sometimes, though, the relationship between humans and dogs becomes skewed. When a dog attacks, it can cause severe physical and psychological damage. If you or a loved one were attacked by a dog, contact a dog bite injury lawyer from Malloy Law Offices, LLC at (888) 291-6445 as soon as possible to determine whether the owner is at fault, and what damages can be recovered for your injury.

Why Hire Malloy Law Offices, LLC in a Dog Bite Case?

Not all dog bite injury attorneys are gifted trial lawyers. Taking a case to civil court for resolution requires a different skillset than negotiating the terms of a settlement. At the Malloy Law Offices, LLC, we take on cases of serious injury, and develop each of our cases as if it will proceed to trial. We are skilled negotiators, and relentless in seeking justice and full compensation for the people we represent.

  • Our dog bite injury lawyers focus on cases of serious injury and represent dog bite victims on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless we win.
  • With over 15 years of experience in personal injury law, we understand how to handle dog bite cases with skill and professionalism.
  • We feel that those who have been injured by a vicious dog have the right to claim what they deserve. We are devoted to pursuing the maximum possible compensation.
  • Our trial law team at Malloy Law Offices, LLC places a high importance on our clients reach their goals. Our entire team and staff are dedicated to making a difference in our clients’ lives through excellent personalized service, an exceptional level of legal knowledge and insight into the system, all performed with diligence and hard work.

Why You Need a Dog Bite Injury Attorney After a Vicious Dog Attack

After serious injuries have been inflicted by a dog, whether wandering freely in a neighborhood, or within the home of another party or other location, your initial concern is to get medical care and treatment. However, the legal issues surrounding compensation for damages should be initiated as early as possible after the incident.

A dog owner is responsible for the actions of the pet. In many cases, an insurance claim will be filed against a person’s homeowners insurance policy. If a vicious dog, such as a watchdog, breaks free from a yard and attacks innocent people, a legal claim can be filed against the owner, even when it was an error. When the dog bite occurs within the home, the same holds true. Even the friendliest family pet can suddenly turn vicious under certain conditions. The bottom line is that you need a personal injury lawyer to manage all the details of your case correctly and to negotiate the terms of a settlement – or take the case to civil court if this will best serve your interests or the interests of an injured child.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

The injuries that can be inflicted by a dog can be extremely serious, including:

  • Ripped or torn skin and flesh
  • Rabies exposure
  • Head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Crush injuries
  • Disfiguring injuries
  • Facial injuries
  • Emotional injuries
  • Injuries leaving permanent scars on face, neck, arms, or other body parts
  • Loss of life

Dog Bite Statistics

Across the country, the number of dog bites and attacks has been on the rise, as well as the rate of mortality from attacks. In 2015 alone, they were the cause of more than 28,000 reconstructive procedures for patients. Around 316,200 people are sent to the Emergency Room each year for dog bite-related injuries. That’s nearly 900 people per day. Children are at particularly high risk for dog attacks. They are the fifth most common reason for children being sent to the hospital. In 2014, dog attacks cost the insurance industry approximately $530 million.

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites

In Maryland and Washington DC, just like with other personal injury cases, the statute of limitations for a dog bite case is three years from the date of the injury (Virginia has a statute of limitations of two years). This means that a person who has been involved in an attack must file a suit on or before the deadline, otherwise, they will be barred from filing a lawsuit later and recovering damages for their injuries. Having a skilled dog bite attorney working on the case will go a long way in ensuring that the deadline is met.

Liability in Maryland Dog Bite Cases

In 2012, Tracey vs. Solesky spearheaded a landmark change in the way dog bite cases were handled. Tracey vs. Solesky addresses pit bulls in particular, as the plaintiffs’ child was the victim of a vicious attack. Prior to 2012, a plaintiff in a Maryland dog attack case would have to prove that the owner acted negligently in preventing the attack. With the advent of this court’s decision, both pit bull owners and landlords (if applicable) would be held strictly liable for injuries or deaths caused by the dog or dogs. In 2014, a new law was passed that applied strict liability to all dogs, not just breed-specific for pit bull-type dogs. Instead of most breeds being subject to the negligence claim and pit bulls, in particular, falling under strict liability, now strict liability applies to all breeds.

Children and Dog Bite Cases

In many cases of serious injuries or death from dog bites, the victim is a young child. The parents face a very stressful, concerning, and devastating situation when a child has been injured by a vicious dog. As children are smaller and less able to defend themselves, the injuries inflicted by a dog are often to the face, neck, and upper body.

As reported by the news agency, Reuters, infants and toddlers up to two years of age make up a large percentage of children who are treated for serious injuries after a dog attack. With about 37 percent of households in the USA owning a dog or about 70 million dogs across the country, the numbers of dog bites continue to increase, with about half of the 5 million injured being children, with a breakdown as follows:

  • About 34 percent of children bitten by dogs are in the age range of 6 to 12.
  • About 30 percent of the children bitten by dogs were 2 years old or younger.
  • More than half of the injuries were to the face.

Strict Liability

Under strict liability, no negligence or fault on the part of the owner must be shown in order to bring a suit against them. It is assumed that if a dog has attacked another domestic animal, such as a dog or cat, or a human, the owner already had the knowledge that their dog was a potential danger to others. In order to avoid being charged under strict liability, the dog owner must prove they had no prior knowledge of the dog’s aggression.

Negligence

In order for someone to recover damages under the legal theory of negligence, the plaintiff must show that the owner’s lack of reasonable care of the animal, whether it was abiding by leash laws, keeping the dog on the premises, or muzzling them when out in public, were the proximate cause of their injuries.

Landlord Liability

In some cases, the landlord may be held liable in dog bite injury cases, as well. This was seen in Matthews vs. Amberwood Associates Limited Partnership in 1998. In this case, the landlord was found liable for a pit bull attack that had occurred on their property. Tracey vs. Solesky references this case, stating, “…[W]here a landlord retained control over the matter of animals in the tenant’s apartment, coupled with the knowledge of past vicious behavior by the animal, the extremely dangerous nature of pit bull dogs, and the foreseeability of harm to persons and property in the apartment complex, the jury was justified in finding that the landlord had a duty to the plaintiffs and that the duty was breached.”

Under the law, landlords can be held responsible for dog attacks that occur on their property under certain circumstances. The first circumstance would be the landlord having actual knowledge of the dog living on the premises. The second would be if they had the ability to remove the dog from the premises, including through tenant eviction, yet neglected to do so; or if they did not have the ability to remove the dog, then they failed to post adequate warnings or inform their tenants appropriately. Lastly, if the landlord harbored the animal themselves, such as taking it out on walks, feeding it, or otherwise watching the dog while the owner was away, they then take on de facto ownership of the dog and can fall under strict liability.

Responsibility for Dog Attacks

Under the law, landlords can be held responsible for dog attacks that occur on their property under certain circumstances. The first circumstance would be the landlord having actual knowledge of the dog living on the premises. The second would be if they had the ability to remove the dog from the premises, including through tenant eviction, yet neglected to do so; or if they did not have the ability to remove the dog, then they failed to post adequate warnings or inform their tenants appropriately. Lastly, if the landlord harbored the animal themselves, such as taking it out on walks, feeding it, or otherwise watching the dog while the owner was away, they then take on de facto ownership of the dog and can fall under strict liability.

Criminal Charges in Dog Attacks

Sometimes, the dog attack was so severe against a human or another animal that criminal charges are pressed. If a dog has already been determined as dangerous or potentially dangerous, the owner must abide by certain rules. This includes keeping the dog within the premises, and if it is being taken off the property, appropriately restrained and muzzled. Should an owner fail to do this, they are in violation of these rules and may face a criminal misdemeanor charge. Criminal charges may also result from a severe attack resulting in serious injury or death. Once a dog has shown that it will attack another human or animal, and especially after it has done so, it is considered a dangerous dog.

Common Defenses to Dog Bite Charges

Some common defenses an owner whose dog attacked another person may use include contributory negligence and trespassing, which can fall under premises liability laws. If the owner uses contributory negligence as a defense, this means that they are claiming that the plaintiff contributed to their injury in some way, such as antagonizing the dog or ignoring posted or verbal warnings.

Under the law, someone who is even one percent at fault for their injuries, even if the other person is 99% at fault, can be barred from ever receiving recovery. This is why it is particularly good practice to retain the services of a highly skilled dog bite lawyer, as they can argue against the contributory negligence claim and work towards obtaining the best results possible for their client.

The other option, trespassing, also could potentially bar a person from receiving compensation. If the plaintiff was not invited onto the dog owner’s property, yet trespassed anyway and was subsequently attacked, the dog owner would be protected through premises liability laws, where the homeowner is not held liable for any injuries a trespasser may incur on their property as they lawfully should not have been there.

Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one were involved in a dog attack, contact a dog bite injury attorney with the skills and experience to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case. The attorneys at Malloy Law Offices, LLC are highly dedicated and thoroughly knowledgeable of Maryland dog bite laws and will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (888) 291-6445 for your free consultation to discuss your case.