Helping those in my community recover fair and reasonable compensation for their injuries, so they can focus on getting better and looking to the future.

Maryland laws on dog bites and attacks

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Dog & Animal Bites

Dog attacks can be terrifying experiences, leaving physical wounds and deep-seated psychological scars. In Maryland, some laws protect residents from such incidents and hold pet owners accountable for their dogs’ actions. Learn more about the liability and exceptions for dog owners faced with a dog that bites.

Liability for dog bites in Maryland

Traditionally, Maryland had a “one bite rule” for dog bites, which meant that owners were only held liable if they knew or should have known of their dog’s propensity to bite and did not take reasonable steps to prevent such an incident from occurring. In other words, all dogs got a “free” bite before their owners became responsible for the harm.

However, in 2014, Maryland changed this rule to a “strict liability” law. This means that regardless of the owner’s prior knowledge of a dog’s behavior or whether they took reasonable steps to prevent an attack, they are still liable if their dog causes injury by biting someone or another animal.


Maryland courts would not hold the owner responsible for their dog bites if the victim were committing or attempting to trespass on their property, provoking the animal in any way, or attempting or committing a criminal offense against any person. Additionally, if the victim was a veterinarian, groomer, or handler injured while performing duties related to their profession, the court will not hold the owner liable.


If the court finds the dog owner responsible for the damages caused, they may have to pay for the victim’s medical expenses, current and future lost wages, and other costs related to the incident. In extreme cases, a judge may also decide to order the euthanization of the dog or permanent removal from the county.

Understanding Maryland’s dog bite laws is crucial for owners and potential victims. They offer a sense of justice and restitution for those harmed and serve as a reminder for pet owners of the responsibilities they shoulder. The shift from the “one bite rule” to the “strict liability” law is significant, imposing stricter standards on pet owners and strengthening victim protection rights. Nevertheless, the law offers specific exemptions, so understanding the nuances ensures fair application.