When it comes to dog bites, Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state. That means that dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their dogs, even if they had no reason to believe the dog would cause such an injury. However, there are some exceptions. If the statute of limitations has passed, or if the victim was provoking the dog at the time the injury occurred, the owner may be off the hook. A Boston dog bite injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been attacked or bitten by a dog.
Dog Bite Laws in MA
In MA, a dog bite victim has three years to file a personal injury claim following the date of the injury. In Chapter 140, Section 155 of the Massachusetts General Laws, a dog’s owner is liable if:
- The dog causes injury or damage to personal property, and
- the victim was not provoking the dog or trespassing on private property.
And this law doesn’t only apply to bites; any injury caused by a dog may be covered. For example, if a dog knocks you over and you are injured in the fall, the dog’s owner may be liable. Further, when a dog causes property damage, such as breaking a fence, chewing on other people’s belongings, or injuring livestock, the law also applies.
Dog Bite Statistics
Dog bites can result in serious, long-term injuries, and even death. In the United States, approximately 1,000 people visit the emergency room every day for serious dog bite injuries. About 9,500 dog bite victims are hospitalized annually. The information below provides greater insight into this problem, and how to avoid becoming a statistic.
- Dog bites are the fifth most frequent cause of ER visits among children.
- Children, mail carriers, and the elderly account for the majority of dog bite victims.
- In 2015, dog bites resulted in more than 28,000 reconstructive surgeries.
- The average cost of dog bite-related hospitalization is $18,200, compared to $12,100 for other injury-related inpatient stays.
- About 77 percent of dog bite victims are the owner’s family members or friends.
Never approach an unfamiliar dog without first asking the owner if it’s okay to do so. If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless. If the dog attacks or knocks you over, curl into a ball, tuck your head into your body, and cover your neck and ears with your hands. Never run from a dog, or disturb a dog that is sleeping or eating. And never allow young children to play with a dog unsupervised. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog. Continue reading