Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws

Dog's teeth and jaws are very powerful and can cause significant injury when they bite. According to National Plastic Surgery Statistics in 2018, about 27,000 people had reconstructive surgery due to dog bites or other dog-related injuries. In most of these cases, the dogs were not provoked by the victims. Thankfully, Massachusetts has one of the best laws designed to protect dog bite victims, especially young children. If you or a loved one were bitten or attacked by a dog, you are within your rights to file an injury claim against the dog's owner and seek fair compensation for your injuries.

At the Law Office of James A. Maniatis, I'm dedicated to offering comprehensive legal guidance and compassionate representation to dog bite victims in their injury claims. As an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney, I will fight vigorously to advocate for your legal rights and help pursue deserved compensation for your injuries and any additional pain and suffering you endured. My firm is proud to serve clients in Shrewsbury, Southborough, Webster, and surrounding areas throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Westborough, Grafton, and Upton.

Understanding Massachusetts's Premises Liability Law

Premises liability is a legal concept that usually applies when a person sustains an injury in an accident on someone else's property as a result of the unsafe, hazardous, or dangerous condition of the property. According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231, Section 85Y,

"The owner of any property containing premises shall not be subject to any claim, liability or penalty arising from or based upon any injury to person or loss or damage to property sustained or occurring on or about such premises unless such injury, loss, or damage is proximately caused by the negligence or misconduct of such owner or its agents, contractors or employees."

Suing for Negligence

Under Massachusetts laws, the owners of residential or commercial properties have a legal duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition or give adequate warning to guests about the unsafe conditions of the premises.

If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog while on the property legally and without provoking the dog, you are within your rights to sue the landowner for negligence or failure to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition in order to reduce the risk of harm or injuries.

Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 155, "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.”

Strict Liability

Massachusetts is a "strict liability" dog bite state. This means that the owner or keeper of a dog that causes bodily injury or property damage to another person will hold civil liability for such injuries or damages. However, for strict liability to apply,

  • The dog must cause personal injury or property damage, and
  • The injured person must not be trespassing, committing another tort, or provoking the dog at the time when the incident occurred.

Criminal Liability

Additionally, under Massachusetts laws, a dog's owner or keeper may be facing criminal charges under the state laws if their dog attacks another person, especially if they allowed or encouraged the dog attack to happen.

Circumstances Where a Dog Owner is NOT Liable

Furthermore, the dog's owner will not be held responsible in a Massachusetts dog bite case if:

  • The victim was trespassing or committing a crime
  • The victim provoked the dog.

Statute of Limitations

In Massachusetts, a dog bite victim will have three years from the date of the injury or accident to file a lawsuit against the dog's owner or keeper.

Possible Damages

The following compensation may be recovered by filing a dog bite or dog attack claim:

  • Medical treatment such as surgery or stitches
  • Lost income and benefits, if you need extended time off to recover
  • Pain and suffering
  • The emotional trauma caused by the dog bite or attack itself
  • Treatment for any scarring or disfigurement due to the dog bite or attack
  • Psychological counseling, if required

Massachusetts Leash Laws

Massachusetts has statewide leash laws that prohibit having dogs off-leash in public places. Here are some notable leash laws in the state:

  • No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit such dog, whether licensed or unlicensed, to become a public nuisance at any time.
  • No owner or keeper of any dog shall allow their dogs to run at large in public places.
  • The owner or keeper of any dog must keep their dogs on leashes or confined in vehicles in public places, as well as in private places, unless they have the property owner's permission to allow their pet to roam about.

Let The Law Office of James A. Maniatis Help

Unfortunately, thousands of individuals are severely injured by dog bites every year. Such an incident can affect your financial, physical, and mental wellbeing. Thankfully, dog bite victims in Massachusetts may seek fair financial compensation to help cover their injuries, physical therapy, lost wages, and any additional pain, discomfort, and suffering. Therefore, if you have been attacked by a dog, you need to act quickly and hire a skilled personal injury attorney to advocate for your legal rights and pursue rightful compensation.

At the Law Office of James A. Maniatis, I have the experience and resources to assist and represent clients in their dog bite cases. As your legal counsel, I can investigate every last detail of your personal situation and help you understand your possible legal options to seek damages. Also, I will gather all required evidence and documentation, seek to prove fault, and estimate case value. Using my extensive experience, I will help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance provider. Even if you need to take additional legal action, I will fight vigorously to protect your best interests and represent you in every phase of the legal process.

Contact my firm – the Law Office of James A. Maniatis – to schedule a simple case assessment with an experienced dog bite attorney. I will fight compassionately to protect your legal rights and help pursue rightful compensation for your injuries, damages, or loss. My firm is proud to serve clients in Shrewsbury, Southborough, Webster, and surrounding areas throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Westborough, Grafton, and Upton. Call me today to get the help you need.


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