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Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Framingham

BaretEvery year, almost 4.5 million Americans suffer injury from dog bites.  Of those 4.5 million people, one-fifth require emergency medical attention and, in 2012 alone, 27,000 required extensive reconstructive surgeries.  Furthermore, almost 900,000 dog bite victims some sort of required medical attention.  If you have been the victim of a dog bite or have lost family member due to a dog bite, you deserve to be compensated by that dog’s owner.

The demographic group at the highest risk of dog bite injuries is children.  Specifically, children ages five to nine years are the most common dog bite victims.  Small children often do not have the knowledge or maturity to appreciate the risks of approaching or making physical contact with strange dogs.  Additionally, because of their relative size, they are usually less equipped to fight back or escape an attacking dog and are also more susceptible to injuries caused by dogs.

Massachusetts has strict liability dog bite laws

Many states apply a “one-bite rule” to dog bite cases.  This type of law only holds a dog owner liable if he or she had reason to know that the dog may be dangerous.  Often, one bite rules let owners off the hook for injuries caused by the dog’s first bite.

Massachusetts, however, is one of the 31 states that have a strict liability dog bite statute (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann., ch. 140, § 155).  This means that dog owners do not have to know or have reason to know that their dog is dangerous to be held liable for resulting dog bite injuries.  Furthermore, the dog bite victim does not have to show that the dog owner acted in a negligent manner to cause or fail to prevent the dog bite.  The dog owner will be held responsible even with no showing of wrongdoing or carelessness.

Exceptions to strict liability

Dog owners can avoid liability under certain circumstances, however.  For instance, the owner will not be liable if the dog bite victim was trespassing or committing another tortious act at the time of the attack.  Additionally, the victim must show that they were not abusing, tormenting, teasing, or otherwise provoking the dog prior to the dog bite.  These exceptions apply to all dog bite victims over the age of seven years old.  If the dog bite victim was under the age of seven, the court presumes they were not provoking the dog or trespassing, and the burden is on the dog owner to prove otherwise.

Damages in a dog bite case

If you were not trespassing on the property or provoking the dog, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries by the dog’s owner.  Recovery includes medical expenses such as emergency bills, hospital stays, surgeries, follow up appointments, and any other necessary treatments for your dog bite injuries.  You can further recover for any wages you lost if you missed work while recovering, and for any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the dog bite.

If you have suffered injury due to a dog bite, you should contact the Cappetta Law Offices as soon as possible to discuss a possible case and receive the compensation you deserve.