Dog Bites

In Maryland, property owners are legally responsible to tenants, customers, social guests and others if the property owner knew of (or should have known) and could have warned of and/or failed to control a dog with vicious propensities from harming others. Similarly, owners of dogs known to be dangerous may be held legally liable if their dogs bite or attack.

Recovering damages in dog bite cases can be complicated.

The law governing dog bites has become increasingly complicated as a result of legislation and court decisions. Before these actions, Maryland followed the common law rule that required proof that the owner or person in control of the dog knew or should have known that the dog had a vicious propensity before it actually bites or injures another.  This rule of law is commonly called the” one bite rule.”

Recovering Damages In Dog Bites Cases Can Be Challenging

Recovering damages in dog bite cases can be complicated.  For instance, other breeds of dogs in addition to Pit Bulls and/ or Pit Bull “cross bred” dogs have been identified by some insurance companies as dangerous or vicious due to their nature, temperament, etc.  For this reason, if a specific bred of dog who has been identified by an insurance company is inherently dangerous attacks or bites another, there may not be any insurance coverage to cover these attacks or the injuries that they create.  If this is the case, other avenues of recovery may need to be explored.  Landlords who know, or have reason to know of a dog’s vicious propensities may also be liable to a person who is attacked by a dog while on or coming from the owner’s premises.

Reversal of Tracey vs. Solesky

Maryland now has a statute governing dog bite cases. The law provides for a rebuttable legal presumption that the owner of a dog knew or should have known, that the dog possessed vicious or dangerous propensities in an action against the dog’s owner for injury or death caused by the dog. Thus, the “one bite” rule would no longer apply.

We Have Experience Representing Both Defendants and Plaintiffs in Dog Bites Cases

Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher has extensive experience in handling dog bite cases on “both sides of the fence,” i.e., as the attorney for the plaintiff or the defendant in such situations.  The area of dog bite law in Maryland is one which has changed and is ever evolving over the last few years based on the existing law and certain modifications in the law.  Those who are proponents or opponents of breed specific legislation have also created a presence in the legislative arena in this area of the law.

Consultation and Claim Evaluation

If you have a question about a claim resulting from a fire damage insurance claim, we invite you to call 301-627-5500 or email our office to arrange a consultation with one of our insurance claims lawyers. We serve clients throughout Maryland from offices in Upper Marlboro and La Plata.

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