August 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Liability for dog bites in Massachusetts---
Article provided by John H. Perrone & Associates
Visit us at http://www.perronelaw.com
Undeniably, being bitten by a dog can be painful and traumatic, especially for a child, and healing can take a long time. A dog can also scratch or knock down a person, causing other types of injury. Especially dangerous is when the animal damages the victim's head or face, including eyes, ears, nose, throat or mouth. Basic functions like sight can be impaired and scarring may require ongoing surgical treatment.
Dog bites can also inflict considerable emotional harm. Dog-attack survivors can emerge with severe, ongoing anxiety and fear -- even bad enough to receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD. PTSD is associated with flashbacks, nightmares and other serious symptoms.
In the most serious cases, mental or physical trauma may be permanent.
Seek legal counsel
Anyone harmed by a dog or whose minor son or daughter or other loved one has been hurt should speak with a personal injury attorney about potential legal remedies that may include a lawsuit for damages or on rare, tragic occasions a wrongful death suit.
Experienced legal counsel can identify potentially responsible parties like insurance companies, property owners and anyone associated with the dog like its owner, keeper or handler.
Dog bites in Massachusetts
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
-Kids are more often bitten than adults in Massachusetts.
-A child should not be alone with a dog.
-Dogs often bite in self-defense, so people should not startle or abuse dogs.
-Avoid abrupt, fast motion around dogs.
-Do not tease, touch or stare at a dog.
-Leave a dog alone if it is eating, nursing its puppies or "playing with a toy or stick."
-Don't walk up to a strange dog.
-In 2006, more than 6,300 dog-bite injuries received medical care in the commonwealth and the younger the victim, the more likely the injury would be to the head, face or neck.
Massachusetts dog bite law
In Massachusetts, a dog owner or keeper (or parent or guardian of an underage owner or keeper) is strictly liable by state statute for harm to a person or property from a dog bite. This means the owner or keeper is responsible for dog-bite injuries even if he or she is not in any way at fault in the incident or if the dog has never before been vicious.
A few exceptions exist to the strict liability rule. The owner or keeper will not be liable if the victim at the time of the incident was "committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog." Victims younger than seven are presumed not to fall under this exception.
Another Massachusetts statute provides that if the biting dog in question had earlier been found dangerous by a government authority or court, the owner or keeper would be liable for triple the amount of damages sustained by the victim.
In addition, other parties may be potentially liable for dog-bite injuries such as landlords, but persons other than dog owners or keepers are not strictly liable in Massachusetts. Rather, they must have been negligent or reckless in connection with the dog attack in order to be liable for the resulting harm.
This is only a brief introduction to Massachusetts dog-bite law. Preparing a dog bite lawsuit can be very complex and may include interviewing witnesses and neighbors, and investigating the actual incident and the dog's health and history. A lawyer with specific dog-attack experience can be invaluable in this regard.
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