Owning a dog is a major responsibility. This is particularly true if a dog has the potential to cause harm. 

Dog bites can cause serious injury. They can even kill people. If you own a dangerous dog, you need to take steps to ensure it doesn’t injure anyone. This includes making sure the dog is secured and monitored on your property. You must also make sure anyone legally on your property is aware of the dog’s presence and its potential to harm them.

If your dog bites someone on your property, they may file a claim or lawsuit in order to recover compensation for their medical bills and related losses. Avoid this by familiarizing yourself with Maryland’s dog bite laws.

Maryland’s Dangerous Dog Laws

Maryland law defines the responsibilities of those who own dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dogs. In Maryland, a dog is considered dangerous if it has killed or severely injured a person. An injury is severe if it involves broken bones or disfiguring lacerations that may require substantial use of sutures or cosmetic surgery.

County and municipal agencies can also determine if a dog is “potentially dangerous.” 

A potentially dangerous dog is one that has:

  • Bitten a person
  • Has killed or severely injured a domestic animal outside its owner’s property
  • Has attacked others without being provoked

A dog considered potentially dangerous will be considered dangerous if it commits any of the above acts after it’s been initially labeled as potentially dangerous.

The responsibilities of a dangerous dog’s owner are as follows:

  • An owner may not leave their dog unattended on their property unless it is confined indoors, in a closed and locked pen, or in any other structure designed specifically to confine it
  • An owner must not allow a dangerous dog to leave their property unless it is muzzled and leashed or otherwise properly restrained
  • If an owner gives or sells a dangerous dog to another person, they must notify the agency that labeled it as dangerous, providing the name and address of the new owner
  • A dangerous dog’s owner must tell a new owner the dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous when selling it or giving it away

If you are found guilty of violating Maryland’s dangerous dog laws, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $2,500. You might also face a claim or lawsuit from anyone your dog injured if it bites them.

Reasons Someone Might Not be Eligible for Compensation After a Dog Bite

There are instances when it’s possible that someone bitten by your dangerous dog on your property is not entitled to compensation for their losses. Examples include the following:

Victim Provoked the Dog 

Maryland has a pure contributory negligence law. In most other states, if someone was found to have partially caused their own injuries in a personal injury case, they may still be able to recover some compensation.

That’s not the case in Maryland. A victim can’t receive any compensation if they at all contributed to their injuries. For example, maybe you failed to properly secure your dangerous dog and it bit someone on your property. Technically, you were negligent in this scenario.

However, the victim may have been negligent as well. Maybe your dog bit them because they provoked it. If so, they might not be able to recover any compensation.

Victim Was Trespassing

A person is only eligible for compensation after a dangerous dog bit them on your property if they were not trespassing at the time. However, the law does make exceptions for young children, particularly those too young to understand the idea of trespassing.

You Were Unaware of Danger

A victim may not be eligible for compensation if you can show you didn’t take the necessary precautions because you had no way of knowing yours was a dangerous dog.

That said, what’s most important is that you strive to ensure your dog never causes harm. The financial consequences you may face if your dog does bite someone on your property could be substantial.