Massachusetts Law Holds Dog Owners Responsible for Dog Bites

Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year. Of those who are bitten, nearly 900,000 need medical treatment for their injuries. In Massachusetts, someone injured by a dog bite may be able to make a claim against the dog owner in a personal-injury lawsuit.

The injuries resulting from dog bites can be significant. And unfortunately, children ages 5 to 9 are most likely to suffer severe injuries in a dog attack. Indeed, the American Humane Association reports that 82 percent of dog bites requiring emergency medical treatment involve kids less than 15-years-old.

Dog Owner Liability in Massachusetts

People injured in dog attacks in the Bay State are given legal remedies by statute, however. Under Massachusetts law, a dog owner or keeper is liable for any injuries or property damage caused by the dog unless the victim was trespassing on the owner's property or committing some other unlawful act at the time, and unless the victim was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog before the bite.

In addition, the law automatically assumes that if a child younger than 7-years-old was bitten, the child was not trespassing or teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog. But, this assumption can be eliminated if evidence showing otherwise is presented by the dog owner or keeper.

Recovery from the dog owner may be possible even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and even if the dog did not previously show any propensity for violence. Victims only must show that they were not committing any of the prohibited acts when the dog bite occurred.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a dog attack, a personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need for medical expenses and other damages resulting from the bite. Promptly contact a lawyer with experience in dog-bite cases to discuss your legal options.