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The Basics of Massachusetts Dog Bite Law


Dogs provide loving and loyal companionship. However, they are animals and from time to time, some dogs attack and bite innocent people. When these incidents occur, personal injuries can result. As accident lawyers we see these incidents occur quite frequently to our clients. There are an estimated 900 people each day that are brought to hospitals due to dog bites. These incidents are extremely common. Many of these victims naturally wonder if they can sue for their injuries. Massachusetts dog bite law is set forth here:

If any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or if the owner or keeper be a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be
liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such a dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, is under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action. You may think your back problem is adequately compensated with a $5000 settlement.

But what if it turns out you have a disc herniation that will require surgery, which will put you at greater risk of arthritis as you age? What if you will require further back surgeries in the
future? A case such as that is worth in excess of $100,000, or even more. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by leaving money on the table. What this means is that if you’ve been bitten by or attacked by a dog, you have the right to sue either the dog owner, dog keeper, or both.

This is because Massachusetts law sets forth that dog owners are strictly liable when their dogs bite or attack people. This means they are automatically liable to the victim. Even if the dog owner or keeper was not negligent in any way, he is still liable to the victim. There are however some limited exceptions to this law. If the victim was either teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog, that person likely will not have a valid claim to pursue. However, these exceptions do not apply in Massachusetts to children younger than 7 years old. Keep in mind the dog does not need to bite someone in order for there to be liability. If the dog causes a pedestrian to somehow slip and fall or causes someone on a bicycle to become injured, the owner or keeper of the dog can be held liable to you in those situations as well.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, call our office today for a FREE consultation, ZERO obligation; 617-338-7400.

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