Robert Mazow explains how the strict liability laws affect dog bite cases in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, when you bring a personal injury claim, you usually have to prove that somebody or some corporation was negligent. In other words, the person or corporation failed to do something reasonable, and caused you harm. Not so with dog bite cases, though.
In dog bite cases in Massachusetts, we have something called strict liability. What that means is that the owner or keeper of a dog that causes harm to another person is strictly responsible for any damages that happen. That means that you do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent, or the dog owner did something or didn’t do something that they should’ve done that caused the harm.
All you have to show is that the dog owner or dog keeper was in control of the dog at the time, or owned the dog or kept the dog, and the dog caused a person harm. That’s the only thing you have to prove in Massachusetts, in order to make a claim.
Now, if you want to, there are some circumstances that you can bring a negligence claim against, let’s say a landlord who knew or should’ve known that a dangerous dog was on their property, and that dog caused a person harm. You don’t have to, but that could be another avenue of recovery where you could show negligence, as opposed to strict liability. But under normal circumstances, if you are hurt by a dog, in order to get a recovery, all you have to show is that the person was in control of the dog, kept the dog or owned the dog at the time, and that’s strict liability.