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New Maryland Dog Bite Law Holds Owners Responsible!

By: GDH Staff

One of the most common injuries seen in emergency rooms across the state of Maryland are dog bites. While some bites only require relatively minor medical treatment, other bites and attacks can lead to the victims suffering serious injury.
An example of the destructive power of an untrained and unrestrained dog occurred in Indian Head, MD in January 2017. Upon arriving to a dog bite call, police found a vicious dog attacking a man. Despite both officers trying to pry the dog off the victim with a canine catch pole, and even tasing the dog, they were unable to stop the attack. Police eventually had to shoot the dog in order to end the attack

Maryland Dog Bite Law – Strict Liability
The state of Maryland changed its dog bite law in 2014. Under the new law the legal concept of “strict liability” applies to the owner of a dog who is “running at large” and attacks someone. Strict liability in this context means that the owner is liable for the dog bite, and that the victim does not need to prove that the owner was negligent or had any malicious intent when his or her dog attacked.

If you were been bitten by a dog, it would be best to consult an attorney in order to determine if the animal was running at large during the time of the attack. Generally speaking, if the dog was not secured by the owner, whether by a leash or within the owner’s property, the dog was likely running at large when it attacked you.

Dog’s Owner Has the Legal Burden
If the dog was not running at large when it attacked you, usually another Maryland legal principle will apply. In these cases, Maryland law assumes that the owner knew that the dog was vicious, or had the propensity for being vicious, which means that the burden will be placed on the owner to prove that he or she had no idea that the dog may be prone to attack. This is considered a high burden to bear for the dog’s owner, and usually this is difficult to prove. Like strict liability, this legal principle also favors the victim.

Injuries and Property Damage
What about dog attacks that do not involve bites? Larger dogs can cause injury by knocking you over, for example. Additionally, dogs can be incredibly destructive, and when left to their own devices can cause damage to property and valuables. Maryland law allows civil action for injuries and losses caused by dogs under its statutes relating to negligence. If the dog’s owner can be proven to have lacked reasonable care, this negligence can be the basis for legal claims resulting from many kinds of canine-caused injuries and losses.

If you believe you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of dog bite contact GDH Law immediately. One of our attorneys can evaluate your case and investigate whether medical error may have caused your injuries. As always, your evaluation is free and we do not get paid until we win on your behalf.
Contact us at 301-769-6835 or online at gdhlawfirm.com.

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