Articles Posted in Animal Attacks

Laws governing dog bite cases vary significantly from state to state, and there are many differences regarding attributing liability, filing notices, and applicable damages. Although many states follow the “one-bite rule,” Maine rejected the statute in 2001. Instead, Maine Statute section 3961, provides that an injury victim may hold a dog owner or keeper liable if the dog caused injuries to a person, damaged another’s property, or both, and the injury was not the fault of the victim. Depending on the circumstances of the dog bite, Maine will either apply the strict liability standard or negligence standard.

Under a strict liability theory, an owner or keeper of a dog who injures a person away from the owner’s property may be liable for damages. Thus, through strict liability, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper responsible, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In Maine, a dog’s “keeper” or “owner” is the person in control of a dog or another animal. A person becomes the keeper of a stray animal if the person feeds it for at least ten consecutive days.

In most cases, Maine applies the strict liability standard for dog bite cases. Therefore, the law does not allow for a reduction of damages because of the victim’s contributory negligence. Under this theory, a person who suffers injuries from a dog bite may hold the owner or keeper liable, even if the dog has never done anything similar before. In these cases, the law does not consider the victim’s contributory negligence in any damage calculations. In cases, where a dog causes injuries on the owner’s property, the dog bite victim must be able to establish that the owner failed to exhibit reasonable care in controlling the dog or preventing the victim’s injury.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the United States. Of the 4.7 million, 800,000 bites require medical care. Maine dog bite victims may be able to recover compensation for their injuries under the state’s dog bite statute. While some dog bites require little treatment, many bites result in severe injuries. People may require hospitalization related to dog bites because of infections, wound repair, and bone fractures. Dog bites often cause long-term and debilitating injuries that require costly and time-consuming treatment.

Generally, Maine dog bite victims can claim damages and receive compensation for dog bites based on Maine’s strict liability, negligence, negligence per se, or intentional tort laws. Victims must file personal injury lawsuits based on dog bites no later than six years after the injury.

Maine is a strict liability state. Generally, strict liability means that the victim does not need to prove that the owner engaged in any negligent behavior. However, there are some nuances to Maine’s strict liability laws.

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