Owning a dog can be the absolute best experience, but it also comes with tremendous responsibility, including ensuring the safety of others around your furry friend. When a dog causes injury to another person, legal action may be pursued. However, the circumstances in which a dog owner may be held liable depends on the specific situation.
In the state of Maine, there are specific case laws and statutes that govern such situations, providing potential plaintiffs with a legal basis to seek compensation. In this blog post, we will explore Maine case law and statutes relating to injuries caused by dogs.
Theories of Dog Bite Liability Found in Case Law and Statutes:
The Maine Law Court has found that there are three options for pursuing liability claims against dog owners’: common law negligence, common law strict liability, and statutory negligence. See Morgan v. Marquis, 2012 ME 106.
For common law negligence to apply, the plaintiff must prove that the dog owner owed a duty of care to the injured person, that the dog owner breached that duty of care, and that the breach of the duty of care caused the person’s injuries.
For common law strict liability to apply, the dog must cause an injury, the dog’s owner must have prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensity, and the injuries must be caused by the dangerous propensity that the dog’s owner was previously aware of.
The elements of statutory negligence are set forth in 7 M.R.S.A. § 3961, which provides two liability scenarios: (1) if the dog is on its owner’s property when it causes the injury, then the plaintiff must prove that the dog owner was negligent in order for liability to attach; or (2) if the dog is not on the dog owner’s property when it causes the injury, the dog owner is strictly liable for any injuries caused by the dog, unless the injured person was at fault for the incident.
Dog bite cases are complex and require a case analysis of the facts surrounding the incident to determine if a dog owner is liable for a dog bite.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident to preserve your claim. Dog bite cases are complex and require in-depth analysis to determine whether a dog owner will likely be liable for your injuries, and if so, which theory of liability applies to your case. At Okun Law PLLC, we have significant experience handling dog bite cases, and our consultations are always free. Give us a call and we will happily conduct a case analysis to see if we can help.