Maine Dog Law
Negligence Liability Statute
Maine has a liability statute based on negligence. Under this statute, when a dog injures a person because the owner or keeper was negligent, the owner or keeper is liable in a civil action for the amount of damage done, so long as the injury did not occur due to the fault of the person injured.
Strict Liability Statute
Under this statute, when a dog injures a person off the owner’s or keeper’s property, the owner or keeper is liable in damages for the injury. Fault of the injured person may not reduce the damages recovered for physical injury, unless the judge determines the fault of the injured person exceeded that of the dog’s owner or keeper.
Dangerous Dog Statute
The Meaning of a “Dangerous Dog”
Under Maine law, a “dangerous dog” is:
- a dog that bites a person who, at the time of the injury, is not trespassing on the owner’s or keeper’s property; or
- a dog that causes a reasonable person who is not on the owner’s or keeper’s property and who is acting peacefully to fear imminent bodily injury by assault or the threat of assault of that person or that person’s domestic animal.
- Once a dog is determined to be dangerous, the owner or keeper commits a civil violation that may result in a $1,000 fine.
- After a hearing concerning the dog, the judge may order the dog muzzled, restrained, or confined indoors or outdoors in an enclosure. The judge may also order the dog to be destroyed, depending on the severity of the injury.
- After the hearing, the judge may order the dog owner to pay restitution to the injured person for any damages the dog caused.
- If an owner or keeper refuses or neglects to comply with a judge’s order and the dog injures another person, the owner or keeper must pay the injured person treble (or triple) damages and costs to be recovered by a civil action.
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