For many, the start of the summer season is synonymous with more time spent outside. We’re all well aware that we need to prepare for these summer months – applying sunscreen, stocking up on popsicles, etc. But how many of us have prepared for potential dog bites?
Sure, it sounds a little silly – I’m willing to bet that most Maryland residents haven’t researched the state’s legislation surrounding dog bites. However, summer months also mean more dogs outside and injuries of this kind are far more common than you might imagine. Actually, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. If you don’t want to become another statistic, it’s important that you know your rights in the event of a dog bite injury.
Oddly enough, Maryland has two different laws surrounding dog bites: one exclusively for injuries by pit bulls, and one for injuries by any other breed of dog.
The One Bite Rule
Maryland applies the “One Bite Rule” to cases in which people are injured by dogs (except pit bulls). Basically, the rule means that in order for the dog owner/keeper to be held responsible for damages due to injuries caused by dogs, one must prove that the dog has a history of violence or an aggressive personality. This rule creates the situation of the “free bite” for which the owner is not held responsible. So if a dog bites someone while never having bitten anyone before nor having shown an aggressive demeanor, the victim will most likely be unable to be compensated for his/her injuries. Although this rule is known as the “One Bite Rule,” it actually applies to cases surrounding all injuries caused by dogs.
In April 2012, Maryland’s highest court (the Maryland Court of Appeals) ruled that pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are “inherently dangerous.” It also ruled that pit bull owners and those associated with them (including landlords) are held to a stricter standard than the One Bite Rule. Instead, pit bulls do not receive a “free bite” and the dog’s owner (and the owner’s landlord) will be held responsible for the dog if it should act violently. This ruling doesn’t mean people can’t or shouldn’t own pit bulls – it simply means that their owners should be extra careful when training them to ensure that the dog does not develop an aggressive personality.
Dog Bite Prevention
When it comes to dogs, one of the worst things you can do is approach an unfamiliar dog without consent from its owner. When in contact with an unfamiliar dog, you should remain calm and fairly motionless, making little eye contact with it and allowing it to see and smell you first; this keeps the dog in a calm state.
If you are a dog owner, it is extremely important that your dog is properly socialized and trained to interact submissively with people. If your dog begins to develop undesirable or aggressive behaviors, you should consult a professional immediately.
For more information on dog bite injuries and prevention, consult the CDC and ASPCA websites.
Victims of Dog-Related Injuries
Have you recently been bitten or injured by a dog? If so, call Carey Law Office, LLC at (301) 464-2500. With over 30 years of experience handling personal injury cases, we are more than well equipped to help you. Call to schedule your free initial consultation today.