Animal attacks can cause devastating injuries. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4.7 million people are bitten in this country by dogs each year. Among these dog bite victims, 800,000 seek medical treatment for their injuries and half the number, or 400,000, of the reported dog bite victims are children. The highest number of injuries occurs in children ages five to nine. With a reported 74.8 million dogs considered pets across the country in 2007-2008, it is no surprise that such a large number of bites occur.

A small number of the dog bites each year are fatal, however, fatalities do occur following an animal attack. Responsible pet ownership is a significant factor in any discussion of animal attacks and the serious consequences of a dog bite attack which can include scarring, disfigurement, permanent disabilities and emotional trauma. Because of this, pet owners are strictly liable, or strictly responsible, for injuries and harm caused by their pets to victims.

Under Massachusetts law, provided that the victim was not in the wrong by trespassing, teasing or tormenting the animal, the pet owner is strictly liable to the victim for damages caused by the dog attack. Children under the age of seven are presumed not to be in the wrong no matter whether trespassing, teasing or tormenting the animal.

Because of the serious nature of dog bite injuries and harm, victims may suffer extensive medical and emotional damages. Victims may also suffer additional damages such as future medical care costs, lost wages or lost-earning capacity. As a result, the law protects victims of animal attacks, seeking to help them recover compensation for harm and damages so that victims can focus on recovery from harm.

Source: ASPCA, “Dog Bite Prevention,” Accessed Dec. 2, 2014