Understanding Dog Owner Negligence and Dog Bite Liability in Maryland
In Maryland, dog owners are held liable for any injuries their pets may cause. Dog owners are expected to exercise reasonable care to ensure that their pet does not harm anyone, and if they fail to do so, they can be held liable for negligence.
What is Dog Owner Negligence in Maryland?
Under Maryland law, dog owners are expected to take reasonable care to prevent their pets from causing harm to others. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping their pet on a leash, restraining their pet when necessary, and making sure their pet is properly trained and socialized. If a dog owner fails to exercise this reasonable care and their pet causes injury, the dog owner can be held liable for negligence. This means that the pet owner may be required to pay for any medical expenses, emotional damages, and other costs incurred by the victim.
Who is Liable for Dog Bites in Maryland?
In Maryland, the pet owner is liable for any injury caused by their pet. This includes any physical or emotional damages suffered by the victim. The pet owner may also be held liable for any medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
It is important to note that in some cases, the pet owner’s landlord or homeowner’s insurance may cover the cost of medical expenses or other damages. In such cases, the pet owner may not be held liable. However, this is not always the case and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine who is liable for a dog bite in Maryland.
Common Types of Dog Owner Negligence
Dog owner negligence can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- Failing to keep the pet on a leash or properly contained
- Failing to properly train the pet
- Failing to socialize the pet
- Failing to provide adequate veterinary care
- Failing to properly restrain the pet when necessary
- Allowing the pet to roam freely
If a pet owner fails to exercise reasonable care and their pet causes harm, the pet owner can be held liable for negligence.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Bitten by a Dog
If you have been bitten by a dog, the first step is to seek medical attention. Even if the bite does not appear to be serious, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure that the wound is properly treated and to prevent any potential infection.
The second step is to contact an attorney to discuss your legal options. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise you on the best course of action and can help you seek compensation for any medical expenses, emotional damages, and other costs incurred as a result of the injury.
How to Prove Dog Owner Negligence in Maryland
To prove dog owner negligence in Maryland, you must prove that the pet owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent their pet from causing harm. This can include, but is not limited to, failing to keep the pet on a leash, failing to properly train the pet, or failing to provide adequate veterinary care.
In some cases, it may also be necessary to prove that the pet owner had prior knowledge of the pet’s aggressive tendencies. This can be done by providing evidence such as witnesses, previous complaints, or veterinary records.
What Are the Penalties for Dog Owner Negligence in Maryland?
The penalties for dog owner negligence in Maryland vary depending on the severity of the incident. In some cases, the pet owner may simply be required to pay for the victim’s medical expenses and other damages. In more serious cases, the pet owner may be fined or even face criminal charges.
Additionally, in some cases, the pet owner may be required to take steps to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future. This may include, but is not limited to, securing the pet in a safe area and providing additional training.
Common Defenses for Dog Owners in Maryland
Some of the most common defenses used by dog owners in Maryland include:
- Lack of knowledge: If the pet owner had no prior knowledge of the pet’s aggressive tendencies, they may be able to argue that they were not negligent.
- Contributory negligence: If the victim was partially responsible for the incident, the pet owner may be able to argue that the victim was partially at fault.
- Supervening cause: If the incident was caused by a third party, the pet owner may be able to argue that they were not negligent.
It is important to note that these defenses may not apply in all cases and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action.
Dog owner negligence is a serious issue in Maryland and pet owners are expected to exercise reasonable care to ensure that their pet does not cause harm to others. If a pet owner fails to do so, they can be held liable for any injury caused by their pet. It is important to understand the laws about dog bites and to seek legal advice if you have been injured by a pet. Contact Ballenger & Roche today to schedule your free consultation to discuss your options if you have experienced a dog bite.