In the United States, dog bites injure about 1,000 people each day, and they require medical treatment for their wounds. In Massachusetts, the state laws dictate that the owner or party in control of a dog who causes injury or death to another person is legally obligated to compensate that victim for the injuries and losses suffered in the attack.
Unlike other kinds of personal injury cases, which require the plaintiff to prove fault on the part of the defendant, a victim of a dog attack requires far less proof. The victim need only show that the dog inflicted the injuries (as opposed to by some other cause) and did not result from the “teasing or tormenting” of the dog prior to the attack. In many instances a “homeowner’s” insurance policy, held by the dog’s owner at the time of the attack, will provide coverage to the victim for the injuries and any losses sustained.
Furthermore, in Massachusetts if the victim is a minor under the age of seven at the time of the attack, it is presumed that the victim did not perform any “teasing or tormenting” and the full burden of proof falls on the defendant.
Defendants in the state also have the option to use the other reasons for liability, which are scienter, negligence and negligence per se. Scienter is the knowledge that the dog has previously acted in a manner similar to the one at hand. For example, that the dog who bit the victim has a history of biting of people. Negligence refers to the actions the dog’s caretaker did not take that should have been taken, or any unreasonable actions they did take. It can also refer to the absence of the ordinary care that should have been taken with the dog. When the dog’s caretaker violates an animal control law, regardless of whether he or she is the dog’s owner, it is negligence per se. An example of this would be violating a leash law.
Parker Scheer has extensive experience representing adults and children injured by dogs in Massachusetts. Victims of a dog attack can experience a wide range of injuries, and often experience both physical and psychological harm. Some of the most common injuries include the following:
- Bites: Puncture and tear wounds caused by dog bites harm the skin and flesh of the victim and can lead to severe scarring or partial amputation of fingers or toes.
- Facial Scarring: The face is the most commonly attacked part of the body. These wounds can lead to scars and disfigurement that last a lifetime and will require painful, costly reconstructive surgeries to try and conceal the damage.
- Head Injury: These most commonly result from being knocked over or into something by the dog, resulting in an injury to the head. The severity can range from a small bump to brain injury.
- Broken or Fractured Bones: Similar to head injuries, these usually result from being knocked over or pulled down while attempting to run away from the dog.
- Emotional Injury: Similar to head injuries, these usually result from being knocked over or pulled down while attempting to run away from the dog.
- Death: Dog attacks result in approximately 18 deaths across the United States each year.
Find Out If You Have A Dog Bite Case
If you have suffered an injury due to a dog bite or animal attack, contact us for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours, or call toll us free at 886-414-0400. If you need a dog bite lawyer outside of Massachusetts, contact us for a referral.