Every day in the US, approximately 1,000 people visit the emergency room to receive treatment and over 14,000 are hospitalized annually – all for dog bites. Tragically, the majority of dog bite victims are children.
Regardless of how well-trained or familiar a dog is with you, the animal still has the ability to bite and injure people. While some dog bites are minor, others inflict serious injuries and even death. Either way, a dog owner may be held liable for damages his or her canine caused under Massachusetts law.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack, then you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the animal’s owner. The first step in pursuing this kind of case is to contact a dog bite attorney. To schedule a free consultation with experienced dog bite attorneys, Better Phone Stone®. There’s No Obligation, Just Information®, guaranteed.
Understanding Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws
Massachusetts has a rule of strict liability when it comes to dog bites or any other kinds of injuries caused by an animal. This means that the owner will be held liable even if precautions were taken to restrain the animal or prevent it from harming people. For example, if a dog was on a leash but managed to escape and knock someone over, the owner is responsible for the resulting injuries.
Under strict liability law, you don’t have to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner when filing a lawsuit, nor that the dog had a history of aggressive behavior. You only need to show that you were injured in a public place or lawfully in a private space when the dog attack occurred.
The owner is strictly liable if his or her dog causes harm to someone. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances when you may not have a solid dog bite case: if you provoked the dog or were trespassing on someone’s property.
Types of Injuries Caused by Dog Attacks
Dog attack injuries vary in form and severity, sometimes causing psychological trauma on top of physical harm. Common dog bite repercussions include punctures and emotional trauma, among other things.
A puncture wound could initially appear like a minor injury that doesn’t require medical attention. However, these types of wounds are prone to infection, which can lead to serious – even life-threatening – complications.
Puncture wounds can result in nerve damage that could have a lasting impact on your day-to-day life, or conditions such as blood poisoning, tetanus, or rabies.
Leg, arm, and hand injuries
Typically, when being attacked by dogs, victims have the instinct to immediately put their hands up to protect the head and face. Powerful dogs such as pit bulls may latch onto a person’s limbs, tearing through skin and muscle tissue. Some dogs may even have jaws strong enough to break through bone.
Neck and head injuries
A neck or head injury could result from a dog running and knocking someone over, circling the victim with a leash and causing him or her to trip and fall, biting the person, or a number of other scenarios.
An injury to the head or neck could result in:
- Concussion or another traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Fractured skull or jawbone
- Broken nose or orbital bones
- Facial lacerations or cuts
- Puncture wounds to the neck
- Eye injuries
- Facial scarring or disfigurement
Dog bite injuries, or harm of any kind for that matter, to the head, face, or neck can be extremely traumatizing. You may require multiple plastic surgeries and procedures to heal.
Immediately after a dog bite or animal attack, a victim’s physical health is of primary concern. You want to ensure that you, your child, or another loved one receives the medical care needed. Meanwhile, in the weeks and months following the dog attack, the emotional and psychological effects may begin to manifest themselves.
The emotional consequences of dog attacks might include:
- Intense fear of dogs
- Fear of going outdoors
- Low self-esteem
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The emotional effects of dog bites and animal attacks can be even more severe in children. After all, kids are smaller, more vulnerable, and still developing mentally and emotionally. But it should be acknowledged that both children and adults may need counseling or therapy to work through the psychological effects of a dog attack.
Establishing Liability in Dog Bite Cases
Victims of an animal attack are sometimes hesitant to bring a claim against the owner of the dog. Maybe the dog owner is your neighbor or friend and you don’t want to cause any issues with that person.
On the other hand, the dog owner may not need to pay out of pocket to cover the cost of the dog bite injuries. There may be third parties involved with your case that could be held financially responsible.
Your dog bite attorney with Jason Stone Injury Lawyers will investigate the animal attack and identify all parties that could potentially be held liable. Depending on the circumstances of your dog bite injury, your claim could be paid by:
- Dog’s owner: If the owner of the canine doesn’t have insurance that covers dog bites, he or she may be financially liable
- Homeowner’s insurance: A homeowner’s insurance policy will typically cover dog bites sustained on the owner’s property
- Animal insurance: There are insurance companies that sell coverage specifically for owners of pets. If the dog’s owner has animal coverage, then this policy would cover your injuries
- Animal keepers: Anyone who is responsible for the custody and care of an animal could potentially be liable for injuries the dog caused. Examples include dog sitters and kennel workers
- Car insurance: If a dog bites someone through the open window of a vehicle, then the insurance policy of the owner will typically cover pay for damages
- Landlords: If the owner of an apartment knew or should have known a tenant owned a dangerous dog, then the landlord could be held liable for the attack
Recoverable Damages for Dog Bite Victims
In Massachusetts, dog owners can be held strictly liable for your medical treatment and other expenses, regardless of whether the dog that hurt you has a history of being vicious and attacking people. If the owner of the animal was negligent or the dog had a history of aggressiveness, you could be entitled to additional compensation.
You could get financial compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Plastic or corrective surgery
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
In some situations, a judge may award punitive damages to a Massachusetts dog bite victim. These types of damages are awarded as punishment for someone’s reckless or intentional misconduct.
For instance, consider if someone knew a dog was vicious and repeatedly let it off its leash in a park where children played. In this case, if the dog attacks a child, there could be grounds for punitive damages being awarded.
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Case in Massachusetts?
After suffering bodily injury from a dog bite, filing a personal injury claim may be the furthest thing from your mind. Your focus is on your recovery and getting your life back from before the animal attack. But don’t delay in asserting your right to recover compensation. If you wait too long, you could miss the chance to recover the money needed to cover your medical expenses and other losses.
The statute of limitations (also known as the amount of time you have to file a personal injury claim) on dog bite cases differs from state to state. Massachusetts dog bite law sets the limit at 3 years from the date of injury.
While this may seem like a long time, it’s best to get your claim started as soon as possible after the dog bite incident occurred. This allows your personal injury attorney to file all required paperwork on time and gather needed evidence before it is lost or destroyed.
The sooner you contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, the sooner a dog bite lawyer can begin building a solid case on your behalf.
Contact Our Massachusetts Dog Bite Attorneys Today
If you’ve suffered a dog bite in Massachusetts, the attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers are here to help. We will examine the individual circumstances of your dog attack and determine whether the owner of the animal may be held financially liable. Our legal team can also seek out other liable parties to maximize your compensation.
As part of our Stone Cold Guarantee® to our clients, you’ll never pay any out-of-pocket fees. We only get paid if you’re awarded a monetary settlement. Because each dog bite attorney at our law firm believes that everyone is entitled to excellent legal representation regardless of his or her current financial situation.
Schedule your free consultation with Jason Stone Injury Lawyers at a time and location convenient to you. We can also arrange for a session by phone, Skype, Zoom, or Google Voice. Start a live chat on our website or call us 24/7 at 800-577-5188.