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Laws concerning dog bites in Massachusetts

Owning a pet is fairly common in Massachusetts and other states across the nation. A dog can be an excellent companion for an individual or an added member to a family. While dog ownership comes with many benefits, it also comes with many responsibilities. A dog owner is responsible for the well being of the animal, as well as being accountable for the actions of the dog. Take, for example, a bite or an attack. If an individual is harmed by a dog bite or attack, a dog owner could be held liable for the injuries the victim suffers.

Depending on the rules of the state, a dog owner could be held strictly liable for an injury caused by a dog. Other states allow for "one free bite." This means that if the dog has never displayed any dangerous or violent tendencies in the past, the owner will not be held liable for a bite or an attack until he or she has specific, prior knowledge that a dog might bite or attack another person.

In Massachusetts, the laws call for strict liability. The law says that a dog owner will be held strictly liable for the harms caused by a dog. This is true unless the victim was trespassing, teasing the dog or tormenting the dog. However, if the victim of the dog bite is under the age of seven, there is a presumption that the child was not trespassing or provoking the animal.

If a negligent dog owner was directly or indirectly liable for the injuries caused by a dog bite, it is important for victims to understand what steps they can take to hold a dog owner accountable. A personal injury claim helps assign accountability, while also serving victims by assisting with compensation recovery. A compensation award could help a victim pay medical bills, offset lost wages, address pain and suffering damages and cover any other related losses.

Source: FindLaw, "Dog Bite Laws by State," Oct. 22, 2017

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