Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and in a similarly wide assortment of temperaments. Most dogs are pets or companion animals, but there are also working dogs and show dogs, as well as breeding dogs. Animals that fall into any of these distinct categories can pose a threat to members of the public. Although owners should care for, train and leash their animals, not everyone is responsible enough to own an animal safely.
You could encounter a dog running loose at a park despite the signs saying they should be on a leash. You might suffer a bite from a shop pet when you visit a local business. Even a friend’s or neighbor’s animal could suddenly turn aggressive with little warning or provocation.
Maryland dog bite attacks send hundreds of people to the hospital every year and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Who is liable when a dog becomes aggressive and hurts a person?
Maryland holds animal owners accountable
State law regarding animal attacks is quite clear. There is a rebuttable presumption that an animal that attacks a person is a vicious animal. Rebuttable means that the owner could show that there are circumstances that prove the animal was not vicious or unnecessarily aggressive.
For example, someone trespassing at the time that a dog attacked or intentionally aggravating the animal might be to blame for provoking a bite response. However, when a person did not intentionally upset the animal or violate the law immediately prior to the attack, there is an assumption that the owner is at fault for failing to properly train or restrain the animal.
What the owner’s liability means for you
When a dog’s owner is liable for the injury it causes, the person affected by an attack can take legal action against the owner. Many times, those injured in dog bite incidents can file a claim against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. If there is no insurance coverage available, then the person injured by the animal may need to consider filing a civil lawsuit.
Learning more about Maryland’s animal bite liability laws can help you hold someone accountable for their aggressive animal’s violence and the injury you suffered as a result of the attack.