A look at Massachusetts’ dog-bite law

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2014 | Animal Bites

Animal attacks and dog bites are a serious concern throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog each year; of that number, half of the victims are children. Of those bitten, one in five requires medical attention and treatment for the dog bite; again, half of the 885,000 individuals who are bitten and require medical attention and treatment are children. In addition, in 2012, 27,000 individuals had to undergo reconstructive surgery due to dog bite injuries which can often result in scarring or disfigurement.

Both children and adult males are at the greatest risk of dog bites and dog bite injuries and children are most likely to require medical attention or treatment following a dog bite injury. Because of the vulnerability of the victims, the severity of the injuries and the seriousness of the harm, dog attacks are dealt with quite clearly under the law.

In Massachusetts, dog and pet owners are considered strictly liable for the injuries and harm their pets cause. This means that in most circumstances, if an individual has been injured in a dog attack and suffered some type of dog-bite injury, the pet owner will be liable to the victim for the damages the victim has suffered. In circumstances when the victim was trespassing or tormenting the dog, however, the dog’s owner will not be liable to the victim. While dog bites are most prevalent for children 5-9 years of age, the law assumes that children under age 7 are not trespassing, teasing or tormenting the dog unless it is proved otherwise.

Victims of dog-bite injuries can suffer physical, financial and emotional damages, making liability for harm and important component of the law to protect victims.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Dog Bites,” Accessed July 29, 2014