Dogsbite.org, a national advocacy group for dog bite victims, has filed an amicus brief in a landmark appeals case in Maryland. The case involves the parents of a young boy who are seeking to hold the landlord accountable for injuries inflicted by a tenant’s pit bull. According to the brief, which was filed this week, the plaintiffs’ hope in this case is to show that landlords can be held liable when their tenant’s dog attacks a person. A news release issued by Dogsbite.org states that the group filed the brief with a view to “dispel the many myths about pit bulls perpetuated by pit bull advocates and national animal welfare organizations.” In this particular case, Solesky v. Tracey, the claims against the dog’s owners were discharged in bankruptcy.
The appeal, however, offers new hope for dog bite victims because they can now seek damages from the landlord. The amicus brief, filed in support of the plaintiff’s claim, highlights the difference between other breeds of dogs and pit bulls. The difference is similar to the one between a firecracker and a hand grenade. No one can predict which one is more likely to explode. However, one will clearly cause more damage than the other. The brief supports the victim’s claim that the landlord should have done something about this dangerous dog, which was on his or her property.
What is unique about this appellate court filing? If the court finds in favor of the plaintiff, victims of dog attacks in Maryland will have a greater chance to hold landlords liable after a mauling, therefore increasing the number of victims who can gain personal injury attorneys. Such an opinion may also encourage more attorneys representing landlords to settle these cases. Since this is an appellate court decision, a favorable opinion will extend beyond Maryland into other jurisdictions.
Negligent Landlords Should be Held Liable
As California personal injury lawyers who represent dog bite victims, we absolutely agree with the group’s position in the amicus brief. In fact, we have been successful in holding a landlord responsible in a similar situation when the dog that attacked was not a pit bull. In that case, we believed that the landlord should have known that the dog was dangerous due to its prior history. Often, in dog bite cases, seriously injured victims are left with nowhere to go for compensation. These are innocent victims who suffered life-changing injuries due to no fault of their own. Often, these dog attacks happen because of a negligent dog owner. It should, undoubtedly, be the responsibility of the landlord to know what types of dogs are on the premises and take the necessary steps to keep all tenants safe.