Who Is Responsible for Dog Bite Damages?
If you were seriously injured by someone’s dog you may wish to speak with a dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD victims trust from the legal firm of Cohen and Cohen, P.C. Our attorneys have helped thousands of innocent victims receive the financial compensation they deserve.
A dog bite lawyer in Bethesda MD can review your case and determine who should be held accountable for paying your medical expenses and other costs from a dog attack. The attorneys of Cohen and Cohen, P.C. can help make sure your damages are recovered from all liable parties.
The Dog Owner
The dog owner is almost always held liable when their dog bites someone and causes them injury. A Bethesda MD dog bite lawyer will examine your case and may name additional defendants but generally, these rules will apply:
- The dog’s owner can be held liable without the dog bite victim having to prove that the owner was negligent or at fault for the dog attack.
- It is the responsibility of the dog’s owner to know that the dog poses a potential threat. Therefore, the owner must protect the public from that danger. Methods to protect others can include dog restraints (using a leash or keeping the dog within a fenced area) as well as supervision of the animal.
When the Dog Owner is a Friend or Family Member
Sadly, if a small child is bit by a dog, the chances that a friend or family member owns the dog are 75%. This can cause the victim’s family to hesitate in pursuing compensation which is often worrisome to them because medical costs from serious dog bites can add up quickly. Fortunately, the dog’s owner has several options when it comes to paying damages, and they may not have to pay a dime out of pocket. A dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD families trust may advise you that filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company is recommended. Very often the damages are covered by one or more of the following insurance policies:
- Renter’s insurance.
- Homeowner’s insurance.
- Condominium owner’s insurance.
- Motorhome owner’s insurance. If the dog attack occurred while in or around the motorhome during a family vacation, the vehicle’s insurance may cover your dog bite damages. For confirmation, you may wish to consult with a dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD victims recommend.
- Landlord’s insurance. In addition to covering the landlord, this type of insurance policy can also cover the renter as well as the property manager.
If your friend or family member’s insurance policy’s coverage is sufficient to cover your damages, you can recover your costs without them paying out of pocket.
When the Dog Owner’s Insurance Coverage is Insufficient
When the dog’s owner is found liable, if their insurance coverage is non-existent or insufficient they must pay for the victim’s damages out of pocket. A dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD residents have turned to for legal help in similar situations may be able to help you. An experienced attorney from Cohen and Cohen, P.C. can review your case and determine your options. They might include either or both of these common approaches:
- Garnish the dog owner’s wages until their debt to you is cleared.
- Pursue the dog owner’s assets and by court order have them liquidated to pay your damages.
In some scenarios, government municipalities have been found liable for the damages incurred by a dog bite victim. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five dog attacks result in injuries that are serious enough to require medical attention. Four and a half million Americans are victims of dog bites in a given year. If a municipality is involved, be sure to hire a dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD locals use in similar cases.
- If an employee of a municipal government (such as an animal control officer) assures the safety of a private citizen in regard to a particular animal and that animal subsequently causes harm to that citizen, the government entity can be held liable for damages to that individual by that animal.
- If a government employee fails in their duty to enforce the animal control regulations in regard to a particular animal and that animal subsequently causes harm to someone, the government may be found liable under the Special Duty Rule. An experienced dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD dog bite victims rely on for protection of their legal rights can determine if this rule applies in your case.
The statute of limitations law sets a time limit on when a dog bite victim can file a legal case against the dog’s owner and other possible defendants. Within that time period, a dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD personal injury victims must file a court complaint against the liable parties. After the statute of limitations expires, it is not possible to file a claim regarding any injuries from the dog bite attack.
There are different statutes of limitation time periods, depending on the nature of the claim.
- For a civil action lawsuit, the statute of limitation is three years in Maryland.
- Assault, libel, or slander claims have a statute of limitation period of one year.
Another complication is determining exactly when the time period begins, particularly in cases where there are overlapping statutes. A dog bite case could potentially involve all of the following:
- Civil action to recover damages from the dog bite attack, including medical costs as well as lost wages.
- Criminal action if it’s determined that the dog owner willfully and with malicious intention caused harm to the victim by allowing or encouraging the dog to attack and
- The victim was not a trespasser
- The victim did not provoke the dog to attack
- Civil action if the dog owner assaulted, libeled, or slandered the victim.
The attorneys of Cohen and Cohen, P.C. have represented over 10,000 injury victims and have a thorough understanding of which laws apply in each case. If you would like to discuss your case with a skilled dog bite lawyer Bethesda MD offers, call our office at Cohen and Cohen, P.C. to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.