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Is an injured child's dog bite claim affected by the dog's breed?

There are many Baltimore residents who consider themselves dog lovers. While pets provide joy and comfort for many individuals, they can also present dangers to others in the community, including young children.

When children are injured by a dog bite, it can leave physical and emotional scars for years to come. It can also present a number of questions about how the child and his or her family can obtain relief for the dog bite injuries.

One question that often arises is what effect the dog's breed may have on a potential personal injury action. Some breeds are considered more dangerous than others, and therefore injured persons may wonder whether they can assert a legal claim if the dog involved in the attack was not one of those dangerous breeds.

Fortunately, Maryland law recognizes that a person who is injured by a dog bite has a cause of action regardless of the dog's breed. When the injured person establishes that a dog has caused the injury, the law establishes a presumption that the owner of the dog knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. It is then up to the owner to attempt to rebut that presumption.

Of course, the breed of the dog could still play a role in the lawsuit if the dog was considered to be a dangerous breed. This may add even more support for the injured person's case and make it even more difficult for the owner to show he or she did not know the dog had dangerous propensities. Thus, while the breed cannot foreclose the injured person's claim, it could help the case under certain circumstances.

Source: General Assembly of Maryland, "3-1901," accessed on May 29, 2015

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