When a dog causes bodily injury to another person, the owner of the dog may be held liable for damages in some situations. In a June 9, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Appeals considered whether, and under what circumstances, a non-owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a dog in their care.
The plaintiff in the case was sitting on her patio when a dog ran into her apartment through an open window, chasing her cat. The plaintiff found the dog in the back bedroom of her apartment, where it had cornered the cat behind a cabinet. As the plaintiff restrained the seventy-to-eighty pound dog by its collar, she injured her neck and left arm. The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the defendants for her injuries.
The defendants in the case were the plaintiff’s neighbor and his girlfriend. The girlfriend, who worked and resided in New Jersey, would visit the neighbor nearly every weekend. The neighbor testified that “we” adopted the dog in Maryland two years prior to the incident, and both defendants were listed on the dog’s veterinary records. Although the dog primarily stayed with the girlfriend, she always brought the dog when visiting the neighbor, who had set up a tethered area for the dog in his yard.