In Massachusetts, dog owners are strictly liable for the harm that their pets cause when those animals attack and bite. This means that the owners are responsible for the harm their animals cause even if they had no prior knowledge of their pets’ dangerous propensities. There are exceptions to this general rule, however, if, for example, a court finds that the bite victim provoked or antagonized the animal into action.
However, these exceptions presuppose that the victims should have known better than to irritate the animals that attacked them. While adults are generally expected to have this knowledge, children are not. In fact, in Massachusetts, children under the age of 7 cannot be accused of instigating the animals that attack them.
This means that if a young child bothers a dog and that dog attacks, the child’s actions may not be held against them during their personal injury claim. As a child ages, however, a court may take a different stance. As in all personal injury cases, it is important that victims speak with their own attorneys. Legal representatives can provide case-specific information to individuals who have questions about their dog bite claims.
A person cannot trespass on someone else’s land or harass their pet and then claim innocence when the pet owner’s dog bites or attacks the alleged victim. However, an exception exists when the victim is a young child. Children are not presumed to have the same reasoning skills and knowledge as adults, and therefore are held to a different standard when it comes to dog bites and attacks. All animal bite victims are encouraged to explore their rights with regard to the recovery of their damages.