Although dogs are often lovable pets, they can seriously injure their victims when they bite. If someone else’s dog has harmed you in Massachusetts, meet with a lawyer to discuss your legal options.

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You may be able to secure financial compensation in these circumstances. The following overview will help you better understand when you have grounds to seek compensation for a dog bite in the Commonwealth.

Can I File a Claim or Lawsuit After Being Bitten by a Dog in Massachusetts?

If you’ve sustained a dog bite, you may be left facing medical bills and various other losses associated with your injuries. You can potentially seek compensation for said losses by filing a claim with the insurance of the dog’s owner or by filing a lawsuit to pursue damages in court. Under Massachusetts law, this is an option as long as:

You were not trespassing or committing a similar crime when a dog bit you

You were not “teasing, tormenting or abusing” the dog, which might have prompted it to attack

Additionally, when a child is under seven years of age and a dog bites them, according to Massachusetts law, “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.”

It’s worth noting the statute is worded in such a way to ensure a victim can seek compensation even if a dog didn’t necessarily bite them. As long as a dog harmed them or their property, they can take legal action.

For instance, maybe you’re walking by a neighbor’s property when their dog rushes off the lawn and jumps at you, causing you to fall backward and sustain a head injury or other such harm. In these circumstances, you could still seek compensation, even though you didn’t technically sustain a dog bite.

In some states, a dog’s owner or keeper might not be held liable for a dog bite if they didn’t know their dog had a tendency to act violently towards others.

The Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts: What it Means for Dog Bite Cases

It’s important to act fast and meet with an attorney as soon as possible if you’re thinking about filing a claim or lawsuit after a dog attack. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations requires that a victim file a suit within three years of being injured as a result of a dog bite or dog attack. You’ll have waived your right to compensation if you miss the deadline.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Massachusetts

In some states, a dog’s owner or keeper might not be held liable for a dog bite if they didn’t know their dog had a tendency to act violently towards others. They may only be held liable if they were aware their dog was capable of violence and negligently allowed others to be put in harm’s way instead of taking steps to prevent their dog from attacking.

Massachusetts is one of several states that assigns “strict liability” to dog owners when their pets attack. In Massachusetts, you can take legal action against a dog’s owner or keeper after a dog bites or attacks you, even if the owner had no idea their dog was capable of behaving in such a manner.

The Role of Witnesses in a Dog Bite Case

Documenting the scene and seeking medical attention right away are two steps you must take in the immediate aftermath of sustaining a dog bite. Even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously harmed, err on the side of caution and see a doctor immediately.

Adrenaline could prevent you from realizing how serious your injuries may be. Ensure a doctor has the opportunity to confirm you don’t need treatment. Be aware, seeing a doctor as soon as possible can also have a positive impact on your ability to receive the full amount of compensation for which you’re eligible if you take legal action.

Along with seeing a doctor and taking pictures of the scene where the attack occurred, try to identify any witnesses who may have seen the attack. They may be able to confirm you were not teasing or otherwise provoking a dog when it bit you.

After taking these steps, strongly consider meeting with an attorney. Your odds of securing the compensation you may deserve will often be greater if you have proper representation from legal experts. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., our Boston dog bite attorneys will review your case for free and help you pursue what you’re owed. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (800) 545-3732.

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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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