Articles Posted in Dog Bites

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angry dogIn February of 2007, Mr. Irwin walked his small dog, Peppermint, in his front yard.  Mr. Irwin had previously been disabled by stroke and was able to walk only with the assistance of a cane.  While Peppermint was doing his daily routine- an unleashed German Shepherd approached the area and came toward Peppermint in his yard.  The German Shepherd took Peppermint by the neck and shook him uncontrollably.  Mr. Irwin was unable to intervene as he was knocked down in the ensuing chaos.  As the owner of the German Shepherd separated the fight, Peppermint ran into the house and was brought to an Emergency Veterinary Center.  The small dog was labeled as being in “critical condition” due to the internal injuries he sustained as well as the bruising and dog bites over his body.  Emergency surgery was performed that totaled approximately $8,608.05 for treatment.

Mr. Irwin, the Plaintiff, brought suit against the Defendant to recovery veterinary costs that totaled over $8,000.00.  The lower court Judge found that these expenses were reasonable and necessary.  Defendant appealed claiming that the damages should be “capped” at the market value of the dog, regardless if the expenses for veterinary care exceeded that amount.

The Plaintiff brought suit under M.G.L. Chapter 140 § 155, which reads, in part: Continue reading →

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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.

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