Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Maryland Dog Bite Attorneys

 

If you are a loved one has been bitten by a dog, the injury can be severe.  In addition to having medical bills, you may have lost time from work and need compensation to make up for what you have lost.  Hiring the right attorney is a critical step in piecing your life back together following a significant injury.

 

  Where the dog is known to be dangerous, the owner will be legally responsible for a bite that occurs when the dog is not on the owner’s property, or when the dog bites someone who is on the owner’s property with the permission of the owner.  If the person bit was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time, whether knowingly or inadvertently, the owner will not be held liable, unless the injured party can show willful and wanton misconduct on the part of the owner, or that the owner somehow entrapped the injured person.

 

Negligence Cases

 

In a negligence case, the plaintiff pursues a claim based on the traditional elements of negligence.  You can read more about general negligence claims here: http://www.baldwinbriscoe.com/sd/pgs/Negligence.aspx.  A negligence claim requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant failed to exercise the degree of care that is required of the ordinary person standing in the defendant’s shoes.  This might include a situation where the defendant failed to have the dog on a lease where required.  In a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the owner knew or should have known that the dog could attack.  It is not necessary however, that the plaintiff prove that the dog has previously bitten a person.

 

The duty that is owed to a plaintiff depends on the nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and the person owning or controlling the dog. 

 

Invitee.   An invitee is an individual who is on the property for a purpose related to the landowner’s business.  A patron in a store is an invitee.  A landowner or tenant has a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property safe for invitees to protect the invitee from injury caused by any unreasonable risk that the invitee, exercising ordinary care, would not discover.

 

Licensee.   A licensee is an individual who is a social guest.  The owner owes a licensee a duty to exercise reasonable care to warn the licensee of any dangerous conditions that are known to the owner, but not readily discoverable.

 

 

Bare Licensee.  A bare licensee is a person that is on the property, but for his or her own purposes.  For a bare licensee, the duty on the landowner is only to refrain from willfully and wantonly injuring the bare licensee and refrain from creating new, undisclosed sources of danger without warning the licensee.

 

 

Trespasser.  A trespasser is a person on the property without permission.  A landowner owes no duty, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring him.

 

Statutory Presumption pertaining to Owner’s Knowledge.  In 2014, the Maryland legislature passed a statute that creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner knows of a dog’s dangerous propensities where the dog causes injury or death.  The effect of the statute is that the burden of proof on this issue is shifted from the plaintiff to the defendant.  The defendant must prove that he or she didn’t know that the dog was dangerous.  The new law did away with the distinction between pit-bulls and other types of dogs.  This law makes it easier for plaintiffs to prove negligence claims, but does away with strict liability.

 

Although the new law creates a presumption in favor of the plaintiff, the presumption may be rebutted by the owner and the plaintiff carries the ultimate burden of proof on the issue. 

 

 

Defenses to Dog Bite Liability

 

Trespass.     Under Maryland law, a person committing a trespass or criminal offense on the dog owner’s property cannot recover if bitten.  This includes committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against a person. Maryland law also prohibits a plaintiff from recovering where the plaintiff was teasing, tormenting, abusing or provoking the dog. 

 

Contributory Negligence.     If the owner can prove that the injured party was at least partially responsible for the bite, the victim will not be able to recover. 

 

Statute of Limitations.     Maryland dog-bite cases generally must be brought within three years of the date that the plaintiff was injured.  If you do not bring your claim within three years of the injury, the defendant will not be held responsible for your injury.  There are some limited exceptions to this rule.

 

Who pays for dog bite injuries?

 

In many cases where a dog has injured a person, the injury will be paid for by an insurance company covering the property where the bite occurred or the owner of the dog.  This may be a homeowner’s policy or a renter’s policy and it may not matter whether the dog bite occurred on the insured’s property or somewhere else.

 

In other cases, the financial responsibility may rest with the owner, landlord, or tenant, of the dog that bit the victim or the owner of the property where the dog bit occurred.  For a landlord to be held legally responsible, the injured party must prove that the landlord was aware of the presence of the vicious dog and that the landlord had an opportunity to exert some control over the dog. 

 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, contact Baldwin & Briscoe to discuss your case.  There is never a fee for consultations involving personal injury claims.  The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  Only a licensed attorney who is familiar with the specific facts of your case can provide legal advice. 

 

 

The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

 

 

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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