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How Severe Must a Dog Bite or Injury be to Make a Claim?

Boston Attorney Representing Victims of Animal Attacks

Dogs make wonderful pets and great companions. In most cases, owners are responsible and take care to ensure that their pets don’t cause any problems. In some unfortunate circumstances, dogs can cause serious injuries to Boston residents, including children. Each year, one in 60 Americans will suffer a dog bite and roughly one million of those victims will require medical attention. Some 30,000 victims will require a form of reconstructive surgery to address a disfiguring bite injury. In rare situations, the most serious cases can even lead to death. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C., we have handled numerous dog bite injury cases. We understand how stressful the situation is for the victim, and how severe a dog bit or injury must be to make a claim. A Boston personal injury lawyer at our firm is standing by and ready to help you seek the compensation that you deserve.

Making a Claim After Suffering a Dog Bite Injury in Boston

One of the most common questions that dog bite victims ask is how severe the dog bite or injury must be to make a claim for damages. Massachusetts’ dog bite laws hold the owner strictly liable in most cases regardless of the extent of the injury or damage. The law extends to injuries beyond bites. This means that a pedestrian who falls and breaks an ankle when a dog jumps on him or her at the park can bring a claim for damages.

Unlike some other states that require the victim to show that the dog had a history of aggression or that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s dangerous disposition, Massachusetts holds all dog owners responsible even for the first bite. This means that any evidence showing that the owner tried to take due care in restraining the dog or preventing bites cannot be used to mitigate the owner’s liability. If the owner installs a reinforced fence but the dog escapes anyway and causes an injury, for example, the owner will be held liable despite the fence.

There are some exceptions to Massachusetts’ strict liability laws. The only instances in which the owner will not be held strictly liable are where the victim was abusing the dog, committing some type of crime, or trespassing. Abusing the dog includes instances of tormenting, teasing, or provoking the dog to engage in aggressive behavior. For children under the age of seven, the law presumes that the child did nothing to provoke or cause the dog to bite. If the owner alleges that the child was provoking the animal, the burden is on the owner to show that the exception to strict liability applies.

Seeking Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury

The severity of dog bite injuries ranges from minor scrapes and punctures to disfiguring injuries and broken bones. Depending on the size of the animal, dogs can apply a serious amount of pressure when they bite. Injuries that can result from dog bites include punctures, lacerations, abrasions, crush injuries, sprains, strains, scars, head injuries, and infections.

In many instances, dog bite injuries are compensated through a homeowner’s insurance policy. Filing a claim with a homeowner’s insurance policy may seem straightforward following a dog bite, but the process can be tricky and insurance companies do not always have your best interests in mind. A seasoned dog bite injury lawyer can assist you with navigating this process while ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

In addition to Massachusetts’ civil dog bite laws, the state has also enacted laws that allow an owner to be charged with a crime in certain situations, particularly where there is evidence to suggest that the owner encouraged the dog to attack. And while Massachusetts has adopted a strict liability approach to dog bite injuries, victims can still bring a negligence claim against the owner. This claim would require the victim to show that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care and skill in keeping or restraining the dog, and that the failure was the direct and foreseeable cause of the attack.

Contact a Dedicated Boston Attorney After Suffering a Dog Bite

Regardless of the severity of the attack, you deserve zealous legal representation after a dog bite. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C., we have handled a wide variety of dog bite situations and are well-versed in Massachusetts laws regarding how severe a dog bite must be to make a claim. Our team will review your claim, gather evidence, and help you seek the just outcome that you deserve. We can provide legal guidance to injury victims located in areas around Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Dedham, Newton, Waltham, Somerville, Quincy, Brookline, Norwood, and Peabody. To schedule your free consultation and learn how an experienced injury lawyer can help you, call us at  (800) 262-9200 or contact us online.

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