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.

Founded in 1920, Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher is the oldest law firm in Prince George’s County. All of the partners at the firm have an AV Rating*, the highest ratings available under the Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System. We have more than 200 years of collective legal experience and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.

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Animals Attacks and Lawsuits

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 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.

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.

SCB 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.

Free consultation and claim evaluation

If you have questions about a claim resulting from an accident or an assault, we invite you to call 301-627-5500 or e-mail our office to arrange a consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. We serve clients throughout Maryland from offices in Upper Marlboro and La Plata.