With National Dog Day happening on August 26th and more dog owners being home because of the pandemic, we wanted to share an article focused on preventing dog bite injuries and liability for damages. As a law office that represents individuals injured by dog attacks directly or indirectly, we wish to help keep Maryland residents, their pets, and others safe.
The subsequent paragraphs offer an overview of Maryland’s strict liability laws with respect to dog bite cases. We also provide a list of ways to potentially prevent a dog from becoming aggressive and causing someone to get hurt. Lastly, we describe what to do should you or someone else experience a dog bite.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury in Maryland?
According to MD Cts & Jud Pro Code § 3-1901 (2015), dog owners are responsible for damages caused by their dog regardless of the dog’s previous behavior, breed, age, etc. This means that if your dog bites someone, you are responsible for that injury and the resultant damages.
There are notable exceptions, including situations where the injured party was:
- Committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense on the property of the owner, such as trespassing
- Committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any person
- Provoking the dog that would insight defensive or aggressive behavior
Ways to Limit Dog Aggression and Potential for Attacks
Recognize a Distressed Dog
According to the ASPCA, individuals should look out for the following signs that a dog is becoming distressed or angry:
- Becoming very still and rigid
- Guttural bark that sounds threatening
- Lunging forward or charging at the person with no contact
- Mouthing, as though to move or control the person, without applying significant pressure
- “Muzzle punching” (the dog literally punches the person with her nose)
- Showing teeth
- Snarling (a combination of growling and showing teeth)
- A quick nip that leaves no mark
- A quick bite that tears the skin
- Biting with enough pressure to cause a bruise
- Biting that causes puncture wounds
- Repeated bites in rapid succession
- Biting and shaking
If the dog is displaying these behaviors, move away at a slow pace, and do not attempt to run away or act frantically. Doing so will encourage a further response from the animal.
Work with a Licensed Trainer
Enroll your pet in a training program to curtail its aggressive behavior. The instructor will be able to provide you with methods of curtailing aggressive behaviors and advise on what to do should your dog become threatened.
Socialize Your Dog with Others
If possible, introduce your pet to other dogs in a controlled environment and incrementally, such as at a dog park or through a “play date” with other dogs.
What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone or You Are Bitten
- Exchange contact details between involved parties, as well as liability (homeowner) insurance information
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Take pictures of the bite itself and anything to provide context
- Get medical attention if you need it and keep records of your bills
- Report the incident to animal control authorities
Get Expert Help from a Dog Bite Attorney
In the event you or someone you know suffers from a dog bite, work with an experienced dog bite lawyer to ensure a just outcome. Our team is ready to assist Baltimore area residents with their cases. Call one of our locations to speak with our attorneys or request a consultation using our contact form.