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Working to Hold Negligent Dog Owners Accountable

Dog attacks can result in severe injuries to unsuspecting victims. Due to the severity of the injuries, and the laws governing dog bite cases, recovering compensation after a dog bite can be difficult. To make matters worse, insurance companies often vigorously defend these types of claims.

If you were attacked or bitten by a dog in Maryland, turn to the Columbia dog bite lawyers at Portner & Shure, P.A. For over 30 years, our firm has been representing dog bite victims and fighting for fair compensation. We work to hold negligent dog owners accountable for the harm their pets cause and have a long history of success in this area of law.

To learn more, including how our team can assist you with your claim, contact us online or by phone at (410) 505-8211 and request a free initial consultation.

Maryland Dog Bite Laws

Until fairly recently, Maryland followed what is known as the “one bite rule.” Under this rule, a dog owner was liable if they knew or had reason to know the dog had a violent nature. For example, if the dog had previously bitten someone, the owner reasonably should have known that the dog might become aggressive or bite someone again.

In 2014, the state of Maryland changed the law and eliminated the one bite rule. Currently, it is now rebuttably presumed that a dog owner knew or had reason to know of their dog’s violent nature. As such, a dog owner can now be held liable under two different theories of negligence.

These theories of negligence include:

  • Strict Negligence: If a dog attack victim is able to prove that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s violent nature, the owner can be held liable under a theory of strict negligence. Stated more clearly, under the theory of strict liability, a dog owner is presumed to be negligent. In order to win under this theory, a victim must present proof that the dog previously attacked other individuals or animals or had displayed several instances of aggressive behavior, such as growling or lunging.

  • Negligence: A dog bite victim can also hold a hold a dog owner liable under a theory of negligence. Under this theory, a dog owner is liable if a victim can present proof that the owner failed to control their dog in a situation where an injury was likely to occur, such as a park or another public place. Stated more clearly, the owner may be liable for failing to leash the dog.

Damages & Injuries in Dog Bite Cases

Victims of dog attacks often suffer severe and painful injuries. Common injuries include lacerations, broken bones, torn muscles, and nerve damage. These injuries often require emergency medical treatment. Additionally, the severity of these injuries often requires additional medical treatment, physical therapy, counseling, and reconstructive surgery.

In Maryland, you may file a personal injury claim to seek both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are specific financial losses you suffered due to the accident/your injuries, such as medical bills, costs associated with future medical treatment, and lost wages. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, include things like physical pain, disfigurement, emotional distress, and other intangible damages.

Defenses to Dog Bite Claims in Maryland

When it comes to dog bite claims, Maryland law offers several defenses to dog owners. Maryland is one of four states that continues to adhere to the defense doctrine of contributory negligence. Under this doctrine, if a victim is found to have taken a negligent action that contributed to their injuries, they are barred from recovering anything. Depending on the facts surrounding the attack, a dog owner may be able to assert this defense.

Additionally, under the Maryland dog bite statute, a dog owner is permitted to use provocation or abuse as a defense. Stated more clearly, if a dog owner presents proof that the victim abused or provoked the dog prior to the attack, the victim will not be able to recover anything.

As the facts and circumstances surrounding each case are different, a dog bite victim should retain the services of an experienced and zealous dog bite lawyer.

Contact a Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer at Portner & Shure, P.A.

For over 30 years, the attorneys at Portner & Shure, P.A. have been successfully representing victims of dog bites and dog attacks throughout Howard County. This has allowed us to build a reputation of excellence among our clients and peers. This reputation of excellence can be seen in the numerous awards our firm has earned, as well as the many five-star reviews we have received from our prior clients. We perform all personal injury services on a contingency fee basis. This means Portner & Shure, P.A. receives no fee unless we obtain a settlement or judgement in court on your behalf.

To schedule a free consultation regarding your dog bite case, call us at (410) 505-8211 or contact us online.


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