Defenses to Massachusetts Dog Bites and Dog Attacks

Massachusetts dog bite accidents occur each and every day.  Needless to say, these accidents can cause very serious personal and mental injuries to the victim.  They can cause scarring, fractures, disfigurement, etc.  They can also cause mental injuries such as severe and permanent trauma, as well as fear of dogs.  When it comes to the Massachusetts law regarding dog bites, it is this:

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, § 155.
Liability of Owner for Damage by Dog

  • 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 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 should know that this statute is clearly in favor of the victim.  Why?  Well, because the victim does not need to show fault on the part of the dog owner.

In terms of defenses, they are few.  One is that of trespass.  That is fairly self-explanatory.  The other is that the victim was teasing or "egging" the dog on.  In the absence of these two defenses, there is a strong likelihood that you can recover for your Massachusetts dog bite injuries.  But, there needs to be insurance.  Usually the insurance that comes into play is homeowners insurance.  The only problem is that many people to not have homeowners insurance.

Note also that there is no defense to a Massachusetts dog bite claim if the victim was a child under seven years.

Please contact me with any Massachusetts dog bite and dog attacks questions and concerns you may have.