If you go on a walk in a neighborhood, or visit a friend in their home, there is a high chance that they will own a dog! Besides leaving them alone, a dog lover may want to run over to the dog and pet them! A dog may be friendly, or they could be aggressive and bite you. Ouch. The dog bites your hand, now what happens? If you know the person, maybe an apology will be made, and nothing will come of it. However, if you do not know the dog owner, and you sustain an injury from the bite, is the owner liable for your injury?
Liability for dog bites are different for every state, and they usually fall under two different rules: the “One Bite” and the Strict Liability Rules. The One Bite Rule used to be known as the dog was allowed to have one “free” bite before the owner would be in legal trouble. Nowadays, the modern rule is that if the owner knows that the dog breed is dangerous, or the dog may be more prone to biting because of its character or recent events, they could be liable for the first bite. It all falls on the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s biting habits and if they took the proper precautions to ensure the dog would not bite. For example, if the dog had injured it’s leg, and the owner did not warn the person petting the dog that their leg was injured, resulting in a bite, making them liable. But how is it proven? Some of items the plaintiff may rely on is the dog’s breed, how the owner trained the dog, how the dog is used, warnings from the owner, and if the owner tried to restrain the dog.
The strict rules liability is a statute that provides specific rules for dog biting cases. This forms a strict liability for dog bites, which means the defendant will be held liable if a certain event occurs, no matter the preventative measures. This strict rules liability says that the defendant is liable if the dog bit a person and that person was legally allowed to be where they were when the bite occurred, and the person did not provoke the dog. This rule makes the owner much more liable in the event of a dog bite, and make the case easier to prove in court.
Again, each state is different, and will apply one of these rules to their own laws. As for Maryland, they follow the “One Bite” rule when a dog bite occurs. This means that owner should be very cognizant when choosing the breed of their dog. They should also be completely transparent when someone tries to pet their dog, by telling them if their dog recently had surgery in a certain area of their body, or if they may bite the person touching them.
If you have suffered a personal injury, or are accused of being liable for a personal injury, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas J. Del Pizzo today!