When is a dog owner responsible for an attack in Massachusetts?

| Oct 8, 2020 | Animal Bites

When a dog attacks someone in Massachusetts, the owner has legal responsibility for costs associated with the attack injuries. The standard applies even if the dog has never been aggressive before, with limited exceptions. 

Review the dog attack laws in Massachusetts and the process of filing this type of personal injury lawsuit. 

Burden of proof

For a successful lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the dog attack caused an injury. The court will reject the plaintiff’s claim when he or she was teasing or otherwise provoking the dog, trespassing, or breaking another law at the time of the attack. The defendant cannot argue that the plaintiff was trespassing if he or she was performing a specific duty on private property, such as delivering mail. 

Self-defense in a dog attack

Massachusetts law allows a person to kill a dog in self-defense if the dog attacks. This also applies when someone sees a dog attacking livestock or another person. In this case, the person who acted to defend oneself or others must immediately call county animal control to report the incident. 

The state dog attack laws cover all types of injuries resulting from a dog attack, in addition to bites. For example, if a person breaks a bone after a dog knocks her over, she can sue for costs associated with the injury. 

When a person has a valid dog bite injury claim, he or she must file a lawsuit within three years of the incident to qualify for financial recovery. Otherwise, the court will dismiss the case as outside the statute of limitations. 

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