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Bill would expand personal injury protection for bite victims

A new bill in Maryland could help balance the rights of dog bite victims, along with dog owners and those who rent property in the state. The proposed legislation in the Maryland General Assembly would expand liability for dog owners whose animals attack others. The change is on its way after a Court of Appeals ruled that owners of pit bulls are liable for personal injury caused by dog attacks, even if there is no evidence that the dog was violent in the past. Landlords are similarly liable. The new legislation would eliminate the breed-specific language, making all dog owners liable for the actions of their pets. Pet owners would be able to refute liability if they could prove that their animals had been docile before an attack.

Many animal rights organizations are opposing the measure, arguing that the dogs are being unfairly vilified because of the proposed legislation. However, lawmakers and attorneys see the issue differently. Instead of focusing on the dogs' situations, they argue that victims of mauling should be prioritized.

The measure comes after a series of recent deaths and cases of permanent injury on the East Coast that have raised additional questions about pet ownership in those states. One teenager was mauled by a bull mastiff in nearby New Jersey, and a toddler was wounded when she was attacked by the family's pit bull in North Carolina. The aforementioned Court of Appeals decision hinged on a case from 2007, in which a 10-year-old boy was mauled by a neighbor's pit bull in Towson, Maryland.

Victims of child injury caused by dog attacks may benefit from the assistance of a Maryland personal injury attorney. These professionals may provide additional information for victims who have been harmed by others' pets. Maryland residents should be held accountable for their recklessness.

Source: The Washington Post, "Md. law would make all dog owners liable for an attack regardless of breed" Fredrick Kunkle, Mar. 23, 2014

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