Maryland Dog Bite Laws
Let’s face it: while we may love man’s best friend, dogs do still bite, so what are the dog bite laws in Maryland? In Maryland, a dog bite can be a particularly bad problem for the owner: Maryland is what’s known as a strict liability state:
“Maryland is a statutory strict liability state where the attacking dog was at large, and where the dog owner cannot prove that he neither knew nor should have known that his dog was vicious or dangerous. The state also allows victims to base their claims on other legal principles such as negligence.
This means that, even if your dog is a sweet dog 99% of the time, not knowing your dog would bite is not a defense to being found negligent, and thus having to pay for your dog’s bite. Maryland is also, however, a ‘contributory negligence'” state:
“In a contributory negligence state, a victim cannot recover any compensation for his injuries if he contributed even slightly to the occurrence of the accident. ‘One who by his own negligence has contributed to an accident in any essential degree cannot recover damages therefore.’ Baltimore & O. R.R. Co. v. State, 29 Md. 252 (1868).”
What this means is that, if a bit victim taunted or provoked a dog to bite in any way, they would not be able to recover for their injuries from the dog owner. There are exceptions, however: children who are 4 years old or younger cannot be found negligent, and children of the age of 5 or older will be judged by the standard of children of their own age, experience and intelligence.
There is an additional exception under extraordinary circumstances if a child is bitten and the parents were negligent in supervising the child:
“A parent’s negligence will be deemed to constitute an ‘independent and superseding cause of the child’s injuries’ in only an ‘extraordinary situation.’ Caroline v. Reicher, supra, 269 Md. at 130, 304 A.2d at 834.”
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