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Is The Owner Responsible For Personal Injury If Their Dog Bites Me?

Maryland law provides the owner of an animal is charged with a duty or using ordinary care in controlling the animal. Some seasoned Baltimore personal injury lawyers have litigated cases in which a dog has bitten someone, and where the owner in fact acted responsibly [e.g. a fence, sign, leash etc]. 

But if that owner knew, or should have known, the animal had a "propensity, inclination or tendency" to bite – for example, by having done it before- then ordinary care doesn't matter. In that instance, the owner is strictly responsible for the damage caused by the animal.

Ssection 3-1901 of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article of the Code of the State of Maryland provides in relevant part that "[i]n an action against an owner of a dog for damages for personal injury or death caused by the dog, evidence that the dog caused the personal injury or death creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities."We've even seen that this duty to protect others may be extended to a landlord whose tenants own animals that could be dangerous. "[W]here a landlord retained control over the matter of animals in the tenant's apartment [by virtue of a 'no pets' clause in the lease], coupled with the knowledge of past vicious behavior by the animal, the extremely dangerous nature of pit bull dogs, and the foreseeability of harm to persons and property in the apartment complex," it is appropriate to impose liability on that landlord where the animal attacks others. Matthews v. Amberwood, 351 Md. 544, 570 (1998).

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 5/29/19. 

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Eric T Kirk

After graduating with honors from Albany Law School in New York, Eric Kirk has spent most of his 25 year legal career battling insurance companies to secure fair and just compensation for his clients in Maryland, New York, and Florida.