Dog attacks can have severe physical and emotional consequences for the victim. Sometimes, injuries are severe enough that victims face financial losses as well. If someone else’s dog attacked you, you might have the opportunity to recover your losses and get your life back. First, consider whether you need a dog bite attorney to assist with your case.
How Do You Know You Could Use the Help of a Dog Bite Attorney?
Dog bite attorneys handle cases governed by personal injury law. In Massachusetts, you can seek compensation for your losses when someone’s dog bites you without provocation. You can reach out to a Massachusetts dog bite attorney to better understand your rights and ensure you adequately value your claim. At the very least, they will answer your questions and give you peace of mind moving forward. If any of the following seven signs apply to you, they will likely take on your case.
1. You Face Financial Repercussions
Did your injuries cause you financial strain? Dog bite victims should always see a doctor after the attack. A dog’s mouth contains germs and bacteria that can cause severe injury. Unfortunately, medical treatments are not always affordable, and more serious injuries can incur substantial healthcare expenses. Depending on several factors, including the area on your body where the bite occurred, the dog’s size and the severity of the attack, the medical expenses can add up quickly.
Missing work to recover also contributes to financial strain. As the medical bills start to collect while you are out of work, you may need an attorney to help you pursue compensation for your losses. Some damages you can recover include:
- The cost of all necessary medical care, including current and future treatments
- All lost wages, including future missed work for rehabilitation or other treatments
- The cost of replacement services if you need help during your recovery
A critical element of your attorney’s role is to identify and adequately value your losses to ensure you receive ample compensation.
2. You Reacted to the Threat of a Bite
Personal injury cases can stem from an array of unusual circumstances. For example, if you fell and suffered an injury while fleeing from a dangerous dog, you might have a claim for compensation. Running from a viciously barking dog is a reasonable reaction, especially if the dog owner did nothing to restrain the dog or keep it away from people. In Massachusetts, it does not matter if the dog does not have a history of violence.
3. The Dog Damaged Your Property
Did the dog injure your property as well? For example, a vicious dog can attack other animals, including livestock or another pet. You can sue the owner for compensation as long as you prove that the animal would have been safe but for the dog owner’s negligence. You may also need to prove that you took reasonable precautions to protect your animals from harm.
For example, if someone else’s dog jumped your fence or broke into your barn and attacked your animals, you did your part to keep the victims safe. However, the dog owner did not and would be liable for the damage their pet caused.
4. Your Injuries Impact Your Daily Life
Dog bite injuries can impact your life in ways you may not assume. Consider some examples of injuries making your life more difficult:
- Do you struggle to complete your daily chores, such as cleaning your home or completing basic hygiene practices?
- Are you unable to pick up your child?
- Do you have a cast until you finish healing?
These are basic signs that your injuries interfere with your life. If you struggle to complete standard daily tasks, you may need an attorney to help you build your case and get the compensation you need for your injuries and replacement services.
5. The Attack Affected You Emotionally
A dog attack can be traumatizing, causing mental and emotional injuries, which are just as prevalent as physical injuries. Do you find yourself afraid to take a stroll outside or unable to go near a park for fear of running into dogs? Have you struggled with sleep since the attack? Post-traumatic stress can affect every aspect of your daily life, interfering just as much with your happiness as a physical injury. An attorney can help you identify and value these non-economic losses to recover compensation for that impact.
7. The Attack Was Intentional
If the dog owner intentionally provoked the dog to attack you, they may already face criminal charges. However, you can simultaneously file a claim in civil court to seek compensation for your losses. Your attorney will help you understand how the owner’s intentions impact your case and if you are eligible for punitive damages.
What Laws Govern Dog Bite Cases in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts follows a dog bite statute akin to strict liability, a legal doctrine that places all responsibility for dog bites on the dog owner. According to this statute, the dog owner is legally liable through the civil court if the dog caused property damage or personal injury. The dog’s previous nature does not affect the owner’s liability. Additionally, it does not matter if the dog owner took reasonable precautions to keep the dog from causing harm before or during the attack.
For example, suppose you were walking down the street and heard a dog barking and looked over to see that the dog was inside a fenced yard, chained to a pole. That owner took reasonable precautions to keep the dog away from you. However, suppose the dog breaks the chain and jumps the fence to attack you. In that case, the dog owner is still liable for your injuries and the damages incurred under the Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute and strict liability rules.
Are There Potential Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim?
As the injured party, you are responsible for providing evidence to support your negligence claim. In most cases, the dog owner will respond with allegations of their own, often in an attempt to shift blame to you. The only acceptable defenses to a dog bite claim include the following:
- Trespassing. If you unlawfully entered the dog owner’s property, such as their home or yard, you cannot recover compensation for the attack. Even passing through someone’s yard is trespassing.
- Committing another tort. If the dog attacked you while you committed another civil wrong, such as physically fighting the owner, you could not claim damages.
- Provocation. Verbally or physically provoking the dog to attack would also shift the blame to you.
Understanding your role in the attack and whether you have the right to compensation is something a dog attack attorney can explain.
Is It Worth It To Contact a Dog Bite Attorney?
If you have any signs you need to call a dog bite attorney, they will likely take on your case. When you have a legal representative, your chance of recovering sufficient compensation can increase, making it easier to get back to your life. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we know the financial burden medical bills and missed work can place on you and your family. That is why the first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee states that we only get paid if you get paid. Contact us at (800) 557-5188 to schedule your free consultation, and remember, There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).