Dogs are a wonderful addition to the family. They provide companionship and hours of fun for anyone lucky enough to bring one into their home. However, despite their loyal nature, dogs can bite. Whether they’re feeling anxious, meeting a new person they don’t like, or simply acting out, a dog bite can be quite serious. This is especially true if the dog bites someone you don’t know.
Whether you’ve been bitten by a dog, or you have a dog that has bitten someone, the situation may escalate to getting the law involved. No matter which side of the case you’re on, you’re going to need a dog bite lawyer in Towson, MD.
At Albers & Associates, we provide dedicated representation to those involved in dog bite claims. Our attorneys have extensive experience and a long track record of success. We offer free consultations and contingency fees, meaning you don’t pay anything unless we recover compensation for you.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
There are many reasons why an otherwise friendly dog may choose to bite someone. Usually, they are acting out of fear or a protective instinct. For example, a dog may bite someone who enters your yard. Though this person may be a good friend of yours, your dog doesn’t necessarily know that and may try to protect their territory.
Dogs have few methods of communication beyond barking, growling, and biting. In some cases, dogs may not warn you explicitly before biting, and this is where problems usually arise.
Signs a Dog May Bite
Though there may be some speculation on whether dogs understand us, they usually understand that biting is unacceptable behavior. However, this has a lot to do with how they were trained and how well you communicate boundaries with your pet. Either way, many dogs will send out warnings signals that they are not happy.
Here are some of the ways a dog may express their displeasure:
- Displaying their teeth
- Stiffening their posture
- Raising the fur on their back or neck
- Bringing their tail so high that it tilts towards their back while wagging
- Pressing their ears flat against their head
For the most part, if you know the signs of a dog’s discomfort, you can avoid being bitten. However, this is not always the case.
When a dog attacks, the victim may be left with severe, life-changing injuries. This is especially true when the victim is a child—which is, sadly, often the case.
Some of the most common injuries associated with dog bites and attacks include:
- Puncture wounds
- Scrapes, cuts, and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Head and brain trauma
- Face injuries
- Eye injuries, including loss of vision
- Nerve and soft tissue damage
- Neck and back injuries
- Psychological harm
In addition to physical wounds, dog attacks can lead to deep psychological trauma. Victims may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression. They may develop a new or worsened fear of dogs, and they may struggle to cope with the immense pain and suffering associated with their physical injuries and financial hardships.
The Laws for Dog Bites Have Changed
Maryland used to employ the “one-bite” rule, which stated that all dogs get one free bite before facing serious consequences. Though this is, perhaps, an oversimplification of the law, the new laws addressed the “free bite” idea specifically. Now, all dog owners are liable for any damage done by their dogs while they are “running at large,” regardless of prior history and breed.
However, if the defense can prove that the victim of the bite was partially negligent or responsible for the bite, then under Maryland’s “contributory negligence” laws, the case may turn. For example, if the victim of the dog bite had been antagonizing the dog before being bitten, they may be found partially at fault and will, thus, be unable to pursue damages. Trespassers and other unscrupulous persons who contributed to the dog attack may also be held accountable for their actions, despite their injuries.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Dog Bite?
In most cases, the dog’s owner is responsible when a dog bites or otherwise causes injury to another person. However, if the dog was under the control or supervision of another person—such as a dogwalker—that person could be liable if they were negligent, and this is what led to the incident.
In some cases, the victim could be partially responsible. This might be the case if it is discovered that the dog bite victim provoked the dog or was otherwise negligent, leading to the attack. Because Maryland is one of just a handful of states to follow the strict contributory negligence rule, an individual cannot recover compensation after an injury if they were even partly negligent. So, if you are found to have been negligent in some way leading to the dog bite or attack, you cannot recover damages.
How to Report a Dog Bite in Maryland
There are several ways to report a dog bite (or attack) in Maryland:
- Call 911 if the incident is in progress
- Call the local Animal Control Services Division in your area
For more information on reporting a dog bite in Towson, Maryland, visit the Baltimore County Department of Animal Services website.
Work With a Dog Bite Lawyer to Address Your Case
Whether you’re a dog owner or you’ve been bitten by a dog, having a dog bite lawyer on your side is essential to help ensure that your case is judged fairly. At Albers & Associates, we can discuss the details of your case and help you determine your next steps. Our Towson dog bite lawyers offer highly personalized legal representation, along with aggressive advocacy in and out of the courtroom. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases, which is why we take the time to develop innovative legal strategies based on the particular nuances of each individual situation.
As your legal team, we will be there for you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the specific details of your situation. We look forward to serving you.