House votes to hold dog owners liable for bites

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland House has joined the Senate in passing a compromise measure on dog-bite liability.

The House passed Del. Luiz Simmons' bill unanimously on Wednesday. The Senate passed a parallel bill from Sen. Brian Frosh last month. Now one chamber must adopt the other's bill before it can go to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley for a signature.

The measure would hold dog owners liable for biting "innocent victims" unless they could prove they had no way to know their dogs were dangerous. It also overturns a 2012 court decision that designated pit bulls as "inherently dangerous."

Both chambers passed an amendment to hold the owner liable anytime a dog bites someone while it's running at large, unless the person was trespassing or provoking the dog.

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