What Are Maryland’s Dog Bite Laws?

A dog bite can be a severe injury, on occasion. Everyone loves dogs, and why not? They have been loyal to man for ages. However, no one wants to get bitten by a dog. Unfortunately, in some cases, you might be a victim of a dog bite. What should you do then?

This article explores Maryland dog bite laws and what you can do if involved in a dog bite case. Want to learn more about taking action after dog bite incidents? Contact our personal injury lawyers today.

Who Is Liable in a Dog Attack?

Maryland has clear guidelines stating who is liable for a dog attack. Section 3-1901 of the 2019 Maryland Code clearly states that all parties should operate under the presumption that its owner was aware of its viciousness when there is evidence of the harm the dog caused.

It also states that “the owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, while the dog is running at large.”

The dog owner will be free from liability if the victim was doing one of the following:

  • Committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the property of the owner;
  • Committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any person; or
  • Teasing, tormenting, abusing, or provoking the dog.

It is important to note that these statutes are not limited to dog bites. They also include any action that could cause harm to other people. So, for example, if someone’s unleashed dog knocks someone into the path of an oncoming vehicle, these laws also cover that.

What Is the One-Bite Rule?

You might have heard about the one-bite rule when it comes to dog bites. Here’s what it means:

A long time ago, the law held dog owners liable for any injury or harm caused when they had reason to know that the dog was dangerous. People operated under the assumption that the owner would not know that the dog was vicious if it had not bitten anyone before. Hence, dog owners had one free bite they could go scot-free for. They would not face any serious legal repercussions if this were their dog’s first bite.

However, one can easily see what is wrong with that rule. Dog owners could even sic the dog onto people and claim that they did not know that the dog would bite. As such, the one-bite rule in our times does not allow a dog to bite once before one can hold its owner liable. Once owners know that their dog is a vicious breed, they should assume that it would bite. Also, if the dog already acts viciously in certain circumstances or is prone to biting, the owner should assume that it is dangerous.

Is Maryland a One-Bite State?

However, Section 3-1901 of the Maryland Code is not a “one-bite” rule. Instead, it is a strict liability law. This means that the law holds owners responsible whether or not they knew that the dog would be dangerous in any situation. Therefore, they cannot get off paying damages even if they took reasonable care to ensure that the dog did not cause harm to the victim.

Consequently, Maryland is not a one-bite state. Instead, it is a strict liability state. Therefore, if you sustain an injury from a dog attack in Maryland, you may bring your claim under the state’s strict liability statutes or negligence laws. Under a negligence claim, you would have to prove that the owner breached a burden of care by letting their dog harm you.

Can a Dog Owner Face Criminal Charges in Maryland?

Most people bring a civil claim against dog owners after a dog attack. This helps them get compensation for the injuries these dog attacks might have caused. However, the state or the prosecutor can bring a criminal charge against the dog’s owner if the dog is dangerous.

According to Section 10-619 of the Maryland Code, a “dangerous dog” is a dog that “without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person.”A dog owner may face criminal charges if a dangerous dog causes severe injury or death.

Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer Today!

If you or your loved ones have suffered a dog attack, you should contact us immediately. Our personal injury lawyers at Pinder Plotkin, LLC, will ensure that you get excellent representation for your case. We will also get you the compensation that you deserve. So, schedule a free consultation with us today to get started.

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