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What does Massachusetts say about dog bite liability?

If you or your child experiences a dog bite injury, the dog’s owner may have legal responsibility for your medical expenses. While some states have a so-called one-bite law, Massachusetts maintains owner liability even if the dog has not been aggressive before.

Review the factors that may apply to your claim after a dog attack in the state.

Exceptions to owner liability

The court upholds the owner’s responsibility for injury and property damage that occurs in a dog attack. However, the defendant can content that you were provoking the animal, trespassing on private property or committing another civil offense when the attack occurred. Performing professional duty on private property, such as delivering the mail, does not constitute trespassing.

Other factors

You may also have a legal claim for injury if the dog does not bite. For example, if a dog jumps up in public and knocks you over, causing a head injury, the court may find the owner liable for damages.

Massachusetts also has strict liability standards. That means the court can find the owner responsible even if he or she was using a fence, a leash or other means of control for the dog at the time of the incident.

You have three years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit under the Massachusetts dog bite law. Some dog bites result in only minor physical harm. However, other incidents may result in eye injuries, broken bones, scarring, nerve damage and other serious injuries. In this case, you may need assistance with the cost of surgery, physical therapy and other treatments.

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