No matter what side you are on in a dog bite incident, be that a person who is injured or a dog owner, it is important to be aware of the laws surrounding dog bites and how they are litigated in Baltimore, Maryland. Dog owners can be held liable for the actions of their dogs in a number of circumstances, even when the dog has escaped or isn’t known to be aggressive.

In data researched by the CDC, it estimates that 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog each year. Some of these incidents produce only minor infractions, but about 800,000 victims seek medical attention for their dog-bite-related injuries.

Dog bites in Baltimore are determined by Code of Maryland section 3-1901. If you own a dog or have been in involved in a dog bite incident, learning about the legal responsibilities of all parties will be important to any pending litigation.

“Strict Liability”

Maryland is a “strict liability” state which differs than that of a “one-bite” rule in other states. (Maryland changed from a one-bite rule in 2014) The strict liability code determines that damages or injuries by a dog, either to another animal, person or property will be the responsibility of the dog’s owner. This is still the case even when the owner may have taken steps to prevent a dog-related incident.

Further, dog owners can face additional legal repercussions if their dog has been involved in other harmful incidents. These dog owners have responsibilities to ensure the safety of others and if they prove to have failed to take proper precautions, additional charges and claims can be brought against them.

“One-Bite” Rule

Other states, like neighboring Vermont, use a one-bite rule to determine liability in dog bite cases. This differs in that, a dog owner who takes reasonable care for the dog’s behavior won’t typically be held liable, unless it is proven the dog acted aggressively.

Mixed Dog Bite Staute

Other states use a mix between “strict liability” and “one-bite rule” to govern dog bite incidents. This is typically used as dog bite cases can be difficult to litigate and are often unique case by case situations.

Defending a Dog in a Dog Bite Case in Baltimore

If you are a dog owner and your dog has injured someone in a dog bite incident in Baltimore, you do have options. While the strict liability statute can be hard to challenge, there are some cases in which you have a defense.

You may be able to claim “contributory negligence.” This type of negligence would need to be proven, in that the person who was bitten, may have played a role in the dog’s negative behavior. For example, if the person bit was repeatedly harassing the animal or attempting to injure it.

If the victim is found to have contributed to their own dog bite injury, Maryland state law issues partial responsibility for their injuries. This fault is oftentimes done by percentages to determine to what degree each party is responsible. If the dog bite victim is found to be at fault, even at only 1%, they will be unable to collect for damages. This “Contributory Negligence” provision allows a dog owner to prove that their dog was somehow provoked to bite or injure the other party.

How to Proceed With a Dog Bite Case in Baltimore

In conclusion, If you have been involved in a dog bite or related dog injury incident, there are two ways in which you can bring a legal claim against a dog owner. First, you can use the strict liability statute, and second, you can use the state’s negligence claims process. If you believe that your dog bite situation may need legal counsel, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced Baltimore dog bite attorney to pursue a legal claim.

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