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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

 

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