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Maryland Personal Injury Laws: Dog Bites

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Posted On 03.17.15 by in Blog

Maryland Personal Injury Laws: Dog Bites

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Maryland, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner. Here you will find out more about these laws, and your rights and responsibilities in filing a dog bite claim.

Statute of Limitations

If you are considering filing a claim, you will need to make sure you do so within three years of the date that the injury occurred. Even though you have three years, it is always recommended that you file sooner rather than later. This will make sure that you have plenty of time to consult with a lawyer and file the claim or lawsuit properly. If you do not do so before the time expires, you will not be able to file a claim on the incident.

New Laws

As of April 2014, Maryland enacted the limited statutory strict liability for injury cases involving dog bites. Prior to this, the “one-bite” rule was in effect, which essentially allowed owners one free pass with their dog’s first bite. In order to be held liable, the owner either had to know that the dog was vicious, or had to have reason to believe that it would bite.

Under Maryland’s limited statutory strict liability law, the burden of proof falls to the owner of the dog, and requires him or her to prove that it was either not known that the dog was vicious, or that there was no reason that he or she should have known that the dog was likely to bite. This is considerably different from most other personal injury cases, in that it is typically the person filing the claim that has to prove the negligence in the case. Additionally, if the owner was negligent by failing to take precautions that were necessary to prevent others from being bitten, he or she will be liable for the injuries.

When the Owner is Not Liable

There are specific instances in which the owner will not be held liable for any damages in a dog bite case. These include:
• Cases where the injured person was either trying to commit, or was committing trespass or any other criminal activity on the dog owner’s property
• Situations where the injured person was trying to commit, or successfully committing a criminal act against another person
• Cases where the injured person was provoking, abusing, tormenting, or teasing the dog.

Contributory Negligence

Dog bite personal injury cases in Maryland are also covered under the contributory negligence rule. This means that if you held any responsibility at all in being bitten, such as sticking your hands through a fence, entering a gate clearly marked with warnings about the dog, or other similar actions, you will not be able to collect any damages from the dog’s owner.
If you have been bitten by a dog in Maryland, you should consider contacting an attorney to help you with your case. He or she will be able to assist you with preparing for your case, and determining if you hold any fault in the injury.

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