Maryland Dog Bite Law
Maryland dog bite law and dog owner community received a jolt in 2012 when the highest court in the state held that owners of pit bulls and their landlord’s would be held to a strict liability standard.
In Tracey v. Solesky, the Court of Appeals concluded that pit bulls were inherently dangerous and vicious. In doing so, the court applied the analogous law covering inherently dangerous activity such as operating a gas station, to raise the stakes from negligence to strict liability.
Dog lovers all over Maryland and property owners were appalled leading to a massive campaign that culminated with the bill signing two years later. In April 2014, Governor O’Malley signed into law a bill that overturned the ruling in the case above.
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Strict Liability for Restrained/Caged Dogs subject to Rebuttable Presumption
The new law holds all dog owners, pit bull owners included, strictly liable if they cannot overcome the presumption that they knew or should have know their dog was likely to attack. Thus unlike in the Tracey case, the inquiry does not start with an assumption that pit bulls are different from other breeds. Instead you look at the facts of the case such as the dogs prior behavior.
Strict Liability for Dogs on the Loose
Dog owners whose dogs are involved in a incident while on the loose however do not have the presumption and are strictly liable for injuries caused.
Negligence for Landlords
Landlord’s were also restored to the ordinary negligence standard for all dogs without differentiating by breed.
Dog bite victims still have to show that the defendant knew or should have known how the dog was vicious or dangerous propensities. To establish this, victims need to investigate all prior incidents involving the dog and gather as much information as possible.