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Dog Bites in Massachusetts: Strict Liability Applies

Dog bites can result in devastating scars, nerve damage, disfigurement and even death. In many cases, dog attacks can also leave victims with severe psychological injuries too. Since Massachusetts is a strict liability state, owners can be held liable for their dog’s actions even if there isn’t any negligence or prior history of aggression. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, contact an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Additionally, half of all dog bite victims are children. In 2012, more than 27,000 victims underwent reconstructive surgery for dog bites. Nearly one in five people who are bitten require medical treatment for injuries.

Who is Most Likely to Get Bitten?

• Children- Children between the ages of 5 to 9 years old are more likely to receive medical attention than adults for dog bite injuries.
• Adult males- Adult males are more likely to get bitten by dogs than adult females.
• People who have dogs in their home- A dog in the house raises the risk for getting bitten significantly. In fact, families with dogs are five times more likely to get bitten than families without dogs.

Dog Bites in the News
Hoquiam, Washington- In late October, the Boston Herald reported on a dog that attacked three children in Washington. An eight-year-old boy, a three-year-old girl and a 15-year-old baby sitter were all treated for dog bite injuries. The dog belonged to the family, and mauled the eight-year-old boy severely.
Santa Monica, California- A pet sitter has been charged with child endangerment after a dog she was taking care of bit a four-year-old child. According to KTLA Channel Five News, the dog lunged for the child’s leg. The pet sitter broke two fingers trying to pull the dog off of the child, and the child received “countless” stitches.
Getting Compensation for Medical Bills Depending upon the severity of the bite or attack, victims may have to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries to repair tendon and ligament damage, extensive scarring and nerve damage. Children and adults who are bit in the face often have to undergo plastic surgery to repair the damage done by a vicious attack.

Dog Bites in Massachusetts
Where dog bites are concerned, Massachusetts is a strict liability state. That means that a person can be held liable if his or her dog bites another person. The dog bite victim doesn’t have to prove negligence on the part of the owner. In order to hold a dog owner liable for an attack, victims need to be able to prove that the defendant owns the dog, there was no trespassing involved and that there was no provocation of the dog prior to the attack.

After an Attack
Dog bite victims need to seek medical treatment immediately. If you or your child has been bitten in the face, insist that a plastic surgeon address the wound, rather than an emergency room doctor. Depending upon what type of dog bit you, you may need to get a rabies shot. An emergency room doctor can help to determine if a shot is necessary. If you were attacked by a stray dog, your doctor will most likely recommend a rabies shot. Once you’ve been taken care of medically, you should contact an experienced Boston dog bite attorney as soon as possible.