In Massachusetts, dog bites fall under strict liability laws. That means that you do not have to legally prove any negligent behavior on the dog owner’s part that led up to the bite. Even without proving negligence, the dog owner is still liable for the bite.
It is important to understand how contributory negligence may affect the case, though.
What is contributory negligence?
If your negligence played a part in the bite, the court considers that contributory negligence. Depending on the severity of the negligence, the court may reduce your award by a certain percentage to account for your role.
What constitutes contributory negligence?
With a dog bite, contributory negligence typically refers to approaching a dog that is clearly dangerous. If there were signs posted to warn of an aggressive dog and you approached the dog anyway, that may be negligent behavior.
Trespassing on someone’s property without authorization is also negligent, as is taunting or teasing the dog in question. If the dog’s owner told you to stay away or back away and you ignored that instruction, that is also negligent behavior on your part.
Ignoring clear signs of an imminent threat could result in a reduction of your injury award following a dog bite. It is important to build a sound case against any potential contributory negligence to ensure that you get the best possible award in your case. The more you understand contributory negligence as well as your legal rights, the easier it is to fight for your compensation.