Dogs are among America’s favorite household pets, and statistics on canines as part of the family confirm how popular they are. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports there are almost 85 million dogs living in U.S. households, so you may encounter these furry friends in the homes of friends or family even if you do not have one. Sadly, the statistics also reveal that some dogs can be dangerous. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and children are most at risk.
If you or a loved one was injured, keep in mind that you have legal remedies under Maryland’s dog bite statute and other laws. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the legal concepts of dog bite laws, which can be a detriment to your rights if you let wrong information dictate your decisions. A dog bite lawyer in Baltimore County is a trusted source, and debunking some myths is useful.
Myth: Maryland follows the common law “one bite” rule.
This is a myth because Maryland lawmakers have actually enacted a statute regarding dog bites. The key points of the law are:
- The statute imposes strict liability, so you do not need to prove that the owner was at fault in causing the dog bite.
- The owner could defeat your claim with evidence that the dog did not possess vicious or dangerous propensities.
- There is also strict liability in favor of victims when the owner allows the dog to roam at large.
Myth: The statute is your only legal remedy.
Not true, since the statute also includes a provision stating that the theories of negligence and negligence per se remain intact. For a negligence-based claim, you would need to prove that the dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care in managing the animal. It is negligence per se when the owner violates a law on restraining the dog, such as regulations about leashes.
Myth: Actions by the victim are irrelevant.
This is a false statement, and it is one that carries significant consequences in Maryland. First, the statute bars recovery if you were trespassing, engaged in criminal activity on property, or provoked the animal. The owner can raise your conduct as a defense, precluding you from obtaining monetary damages.
In addition, Maryland follows the rule of contributory negligence, which could impact your case whether you proceed under the statute, negligence, or negligence per se. Under this harsh rule, you cannot recover compensation if you were even 1% at fault. There is an exception for children under the age of 5, who are viewed as being unable to be guilty of contributing to the incident.
Speak to a Maryland Dog Bite Laws Attorney About Legal Remedies
Clearing up these myths about dog bite law cases is helpful, but you will still need experienced legal counsel to assist with a real-life claim. For personalized details, please contact Attorney Michael A. Freedman at our Baltimore County offices. You can call 410.363.6848 or visit our website to set up a complimentary consultation. After listening to your story, we can advise you on the legal process and next steps.