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Dog Bite Accidents

What Types of Damage Will a Dog Bite Claim Cover?

Potentially Dangerous DogWhile some dog bites are minor, resulting in little more than a few scrapes and hurt feelings, others can be serious, resulting in significant physical, emotional, and financial damages. When a dog attacks an adult or a child, it is important to get medical care as soon as possible. However, many families find that they are unable to afford the costs associated with a critical dog bite.

In Massachusetts, a dog bite claim may be able to be brought forward in order for the victim and their family to obtain financial compensation to help cover costs. Here’s what you need to know about the types of damages a dog bite claim may cover.

1. Medical Care

The chief damages that a dog bite claim is designed to cover are the medical costs associated with the attack. This can include hospitalization, surgical procedures, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and other medical costs.

If you or a loved one have been attacked by a dog, it is imperative that you keep diligent records of all medical treatment and related costs. Make copies of your medical bills and submit them to your Massachusetts dog bite attorney in order to help increase the value of your dog bite claim.

2. Scarring and Disfigurement

Unfortunately, all dog bites involve some form of scarring. Depending upon the size of the dog and the extent of the attack, the scarring can be gruesome and traumatic. Scars can be physically painful to the touch and also emotionally painful to look at. This type of injury and damage resulting from a dog attack is why you need an experienced attorney to represent your interests. It is vital to consider future medical treatment and scar revision surgery when evaluating a dog attack case for purposes of settlement.

3. Emotional Trauma

Often, dog attacks will create significant emotional trauma for the victim, especially if the victim is a child. The victim may become afraid of dogs, or be apprehensive about going to places where dogs may be present. If you or your loved one have suffered any kind of emotional challenges as a result of the attack, it is important that you seek counseling or psychological care.

Costs for these services may be able to be included on your dog bite claim if it is clear that you are obtaining counseling or psychological care directly in relation to the attack. Additionally, the court may award you damages simply for pain and suffering. Discuss how these damages may be able to increase the value of your dog bite claim with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Contact Mazow & McCullough Today

At Mazow & McCullough, we work with dog bite victims and their families every day. Our goal is to help dog bite victims obtain the highest settlement possible from the attack in order to cover all related damages. When you consult with us, we will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the attack and determine who may be held liable for your injuries.

We will work hard to exhaust every possible resource for financial compensation, and we will guide you through the process of bringing forward a claim for maximum damages. Call us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal needs with an experienced dog bite lawyer.

Photo credit: State Farm / Foter / CC BY

Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute

Angry Shiba Inu

Many states do not have specific laws related to dog bite liability, and when dog attacks occur, it can be difficult to who may be held liable for damages. Massachusetts, however, has a specific dog bite statute. Massachusetts is also a strict liability state. Here’s what you need to know about the state’s dog bite laws and how strict liability may affect your case.

Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute

The dog bite statutes are listed in Massachusetts General Laws in Chapter 40, Section 155. This law states that the dog’s “owner or keeper” is liable for damages if their dog bites, attacks, or injures another person. However, two basic criteria must be met in order for the statute to apply:

  • The dog must have caused property damage or injury
  • The victim of the attack must not have been trespassing or provoking the dog

While many people assume that a dog must bite in order to qualify for damages, this is not necessarily true. Massachusetts law covers any injury or property damage caused by a dog, even if the dog is being friendly. For example, if a friend’s dog jumps on you playfully but knocks you down and causes you to hit your head on the concrete, your friend could be held liable for your medical care and other damages related to the incident.

What Is Strict Liability?

Generally speaking, there are two approaches to dog bite liability. Each state handles dog bite incidents differently.

Negligence

In states that use negligence as the basis for dog bite liability, an owner must have previous knowledge that the dog was vicious or would bite and neglected to protect others from the risk. For example, if a dog owner knows that their dog is vicious and has bitten before, and allows their dog to roam at large, they may be held liable for damages.

Strict Liability

In states that use strict liability as the basis for dog bite liability, a dog owner does not have to have previous knowledge that the dog was vicious or would bite. They are held liable for their dog’s actions, regardless of whether the dog is known to be friendly or vicious.

How Does Strict Liability Affect a Dog Bite Claim?

In Massachusetts and other states that use strict liability, it is much easier to bring forward a claim for damages caused by a dog attack. Since Massachusetts law considers owners to be liable for their dog’s actions in all cases, you do not have to prove that the owner was negligent in the care of their dog. You simply have to prove that the dog that attacked you belonged to the owner in question.

Contact Mazow & McCullough Today

At Mazow & McCullough, we have an innate understanding of strict liability and Massachusetts dog bite law. When you consult with us, we will thoroughly review the facts of your case and help you take the next step in bringing forward a claim for compensation.

Our goal is to help you get the full and fair financial restitution you deserve for your injuries and related trauma. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer.
Photo credit: boltron- / Foter / CC BY-SA

How To Keep Your Dog From Biting Someone Else

How to Keep Your Dog From Biting Someone ElseBeing a dog owner requires a high level of responsibility. Not only do you need to ensure that your pet is adequately fed, watered, groomed, and is in good health, you must also train your dog to behave well in a variety of situations. Although you can never truly be certain that your dog will never attack or bite someone else, being proactive can reduce the chances that your dog will harm another person. Here’s how you can help keep your dog from biting you, a member of your family, a friend, or even a stranger.

Get Your Dog Spayed or Neutered As Soon As Possible

Statistics show that unneutered male dogs are the most likely to attack a person. However, female dogs who are not spayed are also highly likely to bite. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is spayed or neutered at the appropriate age.

When you take your puppy or adopted dog into the vet for their first examination, discuss spaying or neutering your pet with the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will make a recommendation on when to neuter or spay your dog and can help you set up an appointment for the procedure.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Adequately Socialized From an Early Age

Socialization is critical for dogs, especially those who will be around small children. Start socializing your dog as soon as possible, since socialization is most effective when it occurs when the dog is young. Expose your dog at an early age to a variety of situations, including being walked at the park with other dogs and children, being over at a friend’s house, having people over to your home, and other normal social situations.

By ensuring that your dog is comfortable in many different social scenarios, you can reduce the chances that your dog will become frightened or aggressive when they are exposed to these situations later on in their life.

Provide Your Dog with Consistent Training

Consistent training is another must for responsible dog ownership. Whether you choose to train your dog yourself or have your dog enrolled in professional training, it is important that your pup understand basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “no,” “heel,” and more. When your dog learns to obey your commands without question and in any situation, you can reduce the risk that your dog will attack when he begins to show discomfort or aggression.

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

Massachusetts is a strict liability state, meaning that if your dog attacks, bites, or otherwise injures another person, you will be held liable for the resulting damages. If your dog has bitten or attacked another person, it is critical that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

For more information take a look at our Dog Bite Resources page

Photo credit: markhillary / Foter / CC BY

3 Things to Do When You Can’t Identify the Owner of a Dog That Bit You

3 Things to Do When You Can’t Identify the Owner of a Dog That Bit YouBeing bitten by dog is a frightening experience. If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, the most important thing is to receive medical care right away. After your condition is stabilized, the next critical step is to identify the dog that bit you. However, in some cases, the dog is a stray or it is unknown who the owner of the dog is. Here’s what you need to do if you cannot identify the dog that bit you right away.

1. Ask Around the Neighborhood

If you don’t know the dog that attacked you or your loved one, it is important to ask around the neighborhood first to see if anyone else knows who the dog belongs to. One of the primary concerns with a dog bite is the transmission of rabies. Rabies is a serious disease and is characterized by a variety of symptoms including hallucinations, abnormal behavior, and often, death.

If you are not able to determine whether the dog that bit you has rabies or not (typically through physical testing of the dog), you will need to receive preventive care in order to prevent the disease. Once symptoms begin to manifest, the chances of survival are quite slim.

2. Check With Your Local Law Enforcement Agency or Humane Society

Often, dogs at large will have been spotted by animal control officers, law enforcement officers, or individuals who work or volunteer at the Humane Society. There is a good chance that if the dog has been seen around the neighborhood, one of these entities will be able to provide you with at least some information about the dog. If anyone has reported the dog for vicious behavior before, law enforcement officials in your area should have a record of the complaints that were filed.

3. Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney

The next most important thing you can do after being bitten by any dog, especially a stray, is to contact an experienced dog bite attorney in your area. An attorney can help you get the medical care that you need after being bitten by a vicious dog, and an attorney can also assist you in investigating the facts of your case and locating the dog in question.

It is important that you reach out to you a seasoned dog bite attorney as soon as you are physically able in order to protect your right to the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Contact Mazow & McCullough Today

At Mazow & McCullough, we have an innate understanding of how the law surrounding dog bite cases works. When the dog that attacked you is located, we may be able to bring an injury claim forward to the dog owner’s insurance company.

We are dedicated to providing you the comprehensive legal assistance you need after a serious dog attack. We will aggressively pursue the maximum financial restitution available for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your unique legal needs.
Photo credit: chefjancris / Foter / CC BY

5 Aggressive Dog Behaviors to Watch Out For

Aggressive Dog

Dogs are often considered “man’s best friend,” however, they can  quickly become vicious when they feel threatened. Like any animal, if a dog feels as though its personal space is being invaded or they are uncomfortable with the situation they are in, they will give warning signs before attacking. If the situation continues, the dog is likely to attack.

Learning these behaviors can help you spot when a dog is about to bite or attack, and can help you diffuse the situation as quickly as possible before the attack happens. Here are 5 aggressive dog behaviors to watch out for, and what to do if you or a loved one were injured by a dog.

1. Flattened Ears

A happy dog usually has his ears perked up. An aggressive dog, however, may flatten his ears against his head when he feels threatened or frightened.

2. Tail Tucked Between Legs

A dog that is afraid will often tuck his tail in between his legs and attempt to retreat from the situation he is in. A tucked tail may be accompanied by other aggressive dog behaviors, or it may be the only sign that suggests the dog is uncomfortable.

3. Crouching or Shifting Weight

A dog that is about to attack may crouch low to the ground, and he may shift his weight from leg to leg as though he is about to jump or run.

4. Fixed Gaze

When a dog is ready to lunge, he will fix his gaze on his intended target. The fixed gaze will usually accompany other behaviors, such as flattened ears or crouching.

5. Snarling or Baring Teeth

A dog that is upset or angry will often bare their teeth or snarl in warning. This warning is the one that people most often associate with a dog that is about to attack, however, not all dogs snarl or bare their teeth before they bite.

What to Do If You See a Dog Exhibit These Aggressive Behaviors

Most dogs exhibit aggressive behaviors well before they attack. If you see a dog exhibit any of these behaviors, avoid making eye contact and remain still. Most dogs do not want to attack, but will do so if they see no other way out of the situation they are in.

When you remain still and avoid making eye contact, the dog is more likely to shift his focus to something else. When he does, you can back away slowly and remove yourself from the situation.

What to Do If You or a Loved One Are Attacked By a Dog

If you or a family member were attacked or bitten by a dog, the most important thing to do is obtain medical care as quickly as possible. Once your medical condition is stable, it is critical that you speak with an experienced Massachusetts dog bite lawyer.

An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to bring forward a claim for compensation, which will help cover the financial and emotional costs of being attacked. At Mazow & McCullough, we thoroughly understand Massachusetts dog bite law and can help guide you through the process of bringing forward an injury claim step by step.

Don’t wait to get the help you need after suffering a dog attack. Contact us today to speak with a skilled dog bite lawyer about your legal needs.

6 Canine Safety Tips For Parents With Dogs

barking-german-shepherd

Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” and for good reason. They can be extremely loving and can bring a great deal of joy to a family, even those with small children. However, dogs can also be dangerous, particularly when children aren’t aware of the boundaries between themselves and the dog. If you are a parent and have a dog, here are 6 things you must do to help keep your child (and your dog) safe.

1. Never Leave Your Child Alone With a Dog

You should never assume that your child is safe with a dog (even your own) or that a dog is safe with a child. Always supervise your child closely when playing with a dog, and be sure to remove your child or the dog from the situation if the dog begins to show any signs of discomfort or aggression.

2. Ensure Your Dog Is Adequately Trained

Training can go a long way to ensuring that your dog will follow commands, even in stressful situations. Take your dog to obedience classes when he or she is old enough to participate, and make sure your dog learns important commands like “no,” “stop,” or “easy.”

3. Teach Your Children That Dogs Don’t Like Kisses & Hugs

Children have a way of getting up close and personal to dogs that they don’t always like. If a child invades a dog’s personal space and doesn’t recognize cues that the dog is uncomfortable, the dog may lunge or bite. Teach your child that dogs don’t like hugs or kisses, and to give a dog enough personal space to get away if it feels threatened.

4. Teach Your Children How to Act Around a Strange Dog

A strange dog is more likely to bite a human child that it doesn’t know, especially if the child gets into its personal space. Teach your child to stand still around a strange dog and to avoid petting it or engaging it in any way. Eventually the dog will get bored and wander away.

5. Neuter or Spay Your Dog as Soon as Possible

Statistics show that unneutered male dogs are the most likely to bite or attack. Make sure to spay or neuter your dog as soon as they are old enough or when recommended by your veterinarian.

6. Adequately Socialize Your Dog

A poorly socialized dog is likely to become more nervous or frustrated around young children or large groups of people. Starting at a young age, socialize your dog with others and help them to be comfortable around multiple people and children. Dogs can be socialized a variety of ways, so be sure to ask your veterinarian or your trainer for their recommendations for your unique dog.

Although not all dog bites can be prevented, being smart and doing everything possible to prevent an attack as both a pet owner and a parent will help you decrease the chances of serious injury. Follow these 6 simple tips to keep both your dog and your children safe and happy!

How to Prevent Your Dog From Biting (and What to Do If He Does)

prevent-your-dog-from-biting-angry-dogDogs don’t often bite, but when they do, it can be serious. Taking action to prevent your dog from biting others is a great way to keep your dog and other people safe and to decrease the chances that your dog will be involved in an attack. Here are several ways to prevent your dog from biting, and what to do if it happens.

1. Spay or Neuter Your Pup

The most important thing you can do for your dog’s health and temperament is to have them spayed or neutered. Statistics show that unneutered male dogs are the most likely to bite, as are mother dogs who are pregnant or who have recently given birth to a litter of puppies. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation and have your dog spayed or neutered as soon as they are old enough to help prevent your dog from biting.

2. Participate in Formal Training

A trained dog is less likely to bite and is easier to handle if a potentially dangerous situation does present itself. Consider enrolling your dog in formal obedience training when he or she is old enough to follow commands. Also, be sure that each member of your family learns the same commands and training techniques so as not to confuse your dog.

3. Ensure Your Dog Is Socialized Well

An unsocialized dog is more likely to become frightened and even aggressive when it is around multiple people or small children. Start socializing your dog from a young age by introducing it to people and other dogs frequently. Stay at your dog’s side and offer them comfort in new situations to help them learn to be calm and accepting.

4. Avoid Stressful Situations With Your Dog

A dog will always try to get out of a stressful situation before attacking. If you know your dog gets upset in certain situations, such as around lots of people or moving vehicles, do your best to keep your dog out of these situations entirely. If you notice your dog becoming uncomfortable, remove him or her from the situation as soon as possible.

5. Be Responsible With Your Dog

Make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy covers dog bites and always follow the leash laws in your area. Do not allow your dog to roam at large, and don’t keep him or her tied up on a chain or alone in the backyard in a dog house. Dogs that aren’t socialized or who spend a great deal of time alone and in small spaces are more likely to attack.

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

If your dog bites someone, confine your dog as quickly as possible. Evaluate the individual’s injuries and if necessary, help them get medical assistance. Cooperate with law enforcement and animal control, and provide all of your dog’s medical records to the appropriate authorities. It may also be in your best interest to contact an attorney to learn more about your rights.

By being proactive about preventing your dog from biting, you can decrease the chances that you and your dog will be involved in an attack scenario. A calm, healthy, and happy dog can be a joyful addition to your family!

Photo credit: Javier Prazak / Foter / CC BY

5 Steps to Take After Being Bitten By a Dog

aggressive-german-sheppard

Being attacked or bitten by a dog is a frightening experience. It can happen when you least expect it, and the resulting injuries are often severe. Follow these steps after being bitten by a dog to increase the chances of a positive resolution and to secure your right to financial compensation.

1. Get Immediate Medical Treatment

Dog bites of any kind require prompt medical treatment, regardless of how minor the wound may seem. This is particularly true in the case of puncture wounds, where the dog’s long canine teeth can cause injuries that are more severe than they look.

Visit your local emergency room as soon as possible after the attack. In cases where children are mauled by a dog, or when the dog bite is in a precarious location, it is critical that you call 911 or get to the hospital as quickly as possible.

2. Identify the Dog and Its Owner

In order to bring a liability case forward, you must be able to identify the dog and its owner.  In cases where the individual was bitten in their own neighborhood, they may already know the dog and/or its owner. However, in cases where a vicious dog has been allowed to run at large, it may be more difficult to find who the dog belongs to.

Write down as much as you remember about the dog attack, including where you were and what the dog looked like. Report the incident to authorities, including law enforcement and animal control. In some cases where the victim is having difficulty locating the dog in question, animal control may be able to help.

In cases where the dog is identified, you may be able to have the dog tested for rabies. If the dog tests negative, you will not need treatment for rabies. However, if the dog tests positive, or if you are unable to locate the dog in question and have it tested, you will need to receive rabies treatment as a preventative measure.

3. Get the Names and Addresses of Any Witnesses

If there were any witnesses present at the time of the attack, it is important to obtain their contact information as soon as possible. If you wish to bring a liability case forward to seek compensation for your injuries, witnesses may be able to provide valuable testimony about what happened during the attack.

4. Take Photos of Your Wounds

Although your medical records will be an important part of your injury case, photographic evidence can be even more valuable when demonstrating the severity of the injuries caused by the dog attack. Take photos of your injuries before medical treatment if possible, as well as after. Continue taking photos of your wounds as they heal and keep the images in a safe place along with copies

5. Contact a Dog Bite Injury Attorney

Once you have received the medical treatment you need for your injuries, it is imperative that you contact an attorney who focuses on dog bite law . At Mazow | McCullough, P.C., we have represented hundreds of individuals who have been the victim of a dog attack. We have developed unique legal strategies that have been proven successful time and again, and we are dedicated to helping our clients recover the maximum amount of damages possible in their case.

Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your case, or to learn more about dog bite injury law in Massachusetts or New Hampshire.

Additional Resources

How to Prevent Dog Bites (And What To Do if You Get Bit)

Photo credit: smerikal / Foter / CC BY-SA

Reporting a Dangerous Dog

dog showing teeth aggressively

Reporting a potentially dangerous dog can prevent injury for you and others.

Many of us are guilty of walking past a situation in which we feel we could or should have stepped in and done something to help. I know I have a couple situations that come to mind, where I felt like somebody else was going to say or do something so it wasn’t my responsibility to do anything. However, to this day I wonder, how did that situation resolve itself? Did everything turn out okay? Now picture yourself walking down the park and noticing a dog that is behaving aggressively and you decide that you will just keep walking and mind your business; somebody else will take care of it. Later on you hear that a person, or worse, a child was attacked by a dog. Would you feel guilty? Would you wonder if it was the same dog you saw and decided not to report? Nine times out ten the answer to both those questions is yes. Save yourself the worrying and remorse and take action in reporting a dangerous dog.

Keep Yourself Safe

If you come across an aggressive dog, especially a dog that seems to be a stray and unattended dog, the best thing to do in this scenario is to back away slowly. Do not try to approach the dog no matter how good you think you are at dealing with dogs or how much dogs like you. An aggressive dog will not like to be approached and will feel intimidated by you trying to invade their space, and could potentially lash out and attack. Do not be tempted to calm the dog down in any way.

It is important that you do not run from the dog as you are trying to get away. It is no secret that all dogs are chasers. They chase balls and they chase their tails; it’s just in their nature to chase things, and you become the perfect target when they see you running. Walk away slowly until you are a safe distance from the dog. If you see an unattended dog, do not try to judge if it is aggressive based solely on the breed. Aggressiveness is, more often than not, related to the training the dog has had or the lack thereof and is not solely based on the breed.

Making the Report

In order to report a dog exhibiting aggressive behavior, you will need to locate the correct phone number to call. If the dog has already attacked somebody and that person is severely injured call the emergency services 9-1-1.  If you want to report a dog with aggressive behavior that has not yet attacked anybody, call your local animal shelter. Some communities may have an animal control department. If there is an animal control department it may be best to contact them first, again only if the dog has not yet attacked anyone. They will be able to get to the scene quicker before the dog wanders away to another location.

If you are located in a rural area, since another option may not be available you may need to get in contact with the local sheriff. When you call to make the report, be prepared to describe the dog’s physical characteristics and location. It is a good idea to report the aggressive dog as soon as possible so that the authorities can locate it before it wanders too far from its initial area. After you have contacted the authorities and reported the situation, they will tell you what to do next. The authorities may even ask you to remain on the line and keep an eye on the dog, while still remaining a safe distance away. Remember, your safety is paramount.

Signs a Dog is Potentially Dangerous

Remember, a dog does not have to severely attack anybody in order for concern or reports to be made. A dog that is chasing or menacing a person or a domestic animal in an aggressive manner should be considered potentially dangerous. If a dog is repeatedly acting in an aggressive manner, and is either in a fenced in location or an enclosed space and it appears that it may be capable of jumping over or escaping, it is safe to consider this dog a potentially dangerous dog. When trying to prevent dog bites or attacks it is very important that action be taken before the situation escalates to a more severe one. If you are concerned about a dog in your neighborhood, do some research and contact the designated authorities and help prevent a dog bite attack from happening.

How to Take Care of a Dog Bite

vicious looking dog that could biteAs much as we would like to believe that man’s best friend wouldn’t hurt a fly, they will. No seriously, they’ll hurt flies. I know a certain German shepherd who will go after flies, bees, butterflies and pretty much anything that has wings or moves faster than she does. She will chase after flies and snap at them hoping to catch the mysterious little buzzing object, while I myself sit back and secretly cheer her on, hoping someone will put an end to the bothersome buzzing. This blog, however, is not about dogs and their fly-chasing ways. It’s about how to act and what steps to take if instead of doing some innocent snapping at a fly or insect, a dog picks a different target: a person.

What should I do if someone is bitten by a dog?

Take the victim away from the attacking dog in order to prevent any further injury or attack. Since dog bites can cause significant damage exceeding what we can see, medical care should be obtained as soon as possible to help determine the extent of the damage. Wounds should be kept elevated and if possible washed with soap and water. It is important to try and obtain information regarding the dog’s owner and the immunization record of the dog.

Will a dog bite need any medication?

If the doctor believes that there is a high risk of infection, usually occurring with injuries to the hands, feet and face, a seven day course of antibiotics may be prescribed.  The potential for infection with dog bites is high since dog bites instill bacteria deep into tissues, making it more prone to infections.

How will I know if a dog bite has become infected?

First and foremost, if you believe that a dog bite has become infected, seek medical advice immediately. Signs indicating an infection include:

  • The wound becomes more painful.
  • A fever with a temperature of 38°C/ 100.8° F or above.
  • Redness and excessive swelling around the dog bite.
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Fluid or pus leaking from the bite.

I am sure that there are many more questions that arise throughout the process of treating and learning how to take care of a dog bite.  For any further questions on how to care for a dog bite, consult your physician and follow his/her instructions. If you are seeking to take legal action, give our office a call and we will answer any questions you may have.

Photo credit: State Farm / Foter / CC BY

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