Pit Bull Task Force Considers Strict Liability for All Dog Owners

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland General Assembly has convened a task force to consider legislation that would clarify the liability of a dog owner and other parties (such as landlords) when a dog injures another person.  The task force was formed in response to a recent Maryland Court of Appeals holding that held that an owner of a pit bull or pit bull mix could be held liable for injuries caused by the dog even if there was no prior evidence or history that the dog was dangerous.

A June 27  Capital article summarizes the most recent meeting of the task force.  The article reports that the task force is leaning towards recommending that any dog owner be strictly liable for injuries caused by his or her dog, regardless of the dog’s breed.  The task force is still considering the liability of tangential parties, such as landlord and veterinarians and may hold such individuals to a lower standard of  simple negligence.

According to the task force, 33 states impose strict liability standards on dog owners regardless of the animal’s breed.

A major question is when the General Assembly will address the matter.  …

“If they announced a special session in two weeks, we would try to get … (the draft bill) done before then,” [Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Brian] Frosh said. “If it’s done in a regular January session, then we’ll probably meet in September or October” to finish it.


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