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What You Need to Know About Dog Bite Law


Dog bite law tends to be extraordinarily complex, because there are few laws that specifically govern dog bites and legal remedies for dog attack victims. Much must be gleaned from the details of previous cases, and in some instances, pursuing a dog bite claim may land the plaintiff in unknown legal territory. Here’s what you need to know about established dog bite laws, and what to do if you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog attack.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire are Both “Strict Liability” States

Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are considered “strict liability” states when it comes to dog bites, meaning that dog owners are almost always held liable for the actions of their pets. This is true even if the dog owner had no knowledge that the dog would attack or bite another person. This law makes it easier to pursue a dog bite claim in these states, because there is not a requirement to show negligence on the part of the owner.

Both States Have a 3-Year Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

While many other states have a fairly ample statute of limitations, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire have just a 3 year statute of limitations. This means that you must file your dog bite claim within 3 years of the original incident, or you will forfeit your right to bring forward a claim for compensation entirely.

An Actual “Bite” Is Not Necessary to Bring Forward a Claim

Massachusetts and New Hampshire have laws that allow for a dog attack victim to seek compensation for all damages, not just those related to an actual dog bite. This means that if a dog attacks an individual and causes injury, but does not bite, the victim can still bring forward an injury claim for damages. In some cases, dog attack compensation cases may also include provisions for property damage.

You May Not Be Able to Recover Damages if You Were Trespassing

If you were trespassing on another person’s property, or committing another tort, you may not be eligible to bring forward a claim for compensation. Because both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are strict liability states, this is generally the only defense that a dog owner has against a person seeking damages for a dog attack. However, because the law tends to favor dog bite victims, compensation can sometimes still be awarded in cases where the victim was trespassing, but the owner’s property did not have clear markers or signs warning of trespassing.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we fully understand dog bite laws in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and are able to extend our expertise and resources to your case. We will exhaust every possible source of compensation to cover your dog bite related expenses, and will passionately advocate for you to receive the maximum settlement available in your case. When a dog attack situation threatens to cause your family undue emotional, physical, and financial strain, you need strong legal representation. Contact us for a consultation to discuss your legal needs with an experienced dog bite attorney.

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC / Foter / CC BY-ND


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