Negligence in Boston Dog Bite Cases

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Injury Surveillance Program, thousands of dog bites occur each year. Thankfully, only a small percentage of those require medical attention, but the ones that do can be quite serious and often result in unnecessary pain and suffering, disfigurement and scarring, and expensive medical bills.

To help pay for these expenses, many dog bite victims exercise their legal right to file suit against the person responsible for the dog that harmed them. Proving negligence in Boston dog bite cases is the cornerstone of determining liability for damages, and any victim who hires an experienced dog bite attorney could have a better chance at establishing negligence and recovering for their losses.

Liability for a Dog’s Behavior

In the State of Massachusetts, the owner or keeper of a dog is liable for that dog’s actions. Dog ownership is generally not difficult to prove in court through veterinary records, American Kennel Club records, or city or county registration for the animal.

In the eyes of the law, an animal’s keeper is someone who is controlling or managing the dog. Demonstrating someone was responsible for a dog in this way can be more challenging to prove compared to ownership, as it also requires affirming the defendant’s responsibility to care for the dog by feeding, grooming, boarding, and/or providing it with medical care.

Establishing Negligence in Boston Dog Bite Lawsuits

Negligence is a legal term for someone’s failure to act in a way that another reasonable person under similar circumstances would have acted. To prove negligence in dog bite cases in Boston, the plaintiff must show through a preponderance of the evidence that:

  • The defendant was the owner or keeper of the dog
  • The owner or keeper had a duty to take reasonable care and control of their dog
  • The owner was negligent and breached that duty
  • The dog caused the injury to the plaintiff
  • The owner’s negligence proximately caused damages to the victim
  • The plaintiff did not commit trespass or another tort and was not provoking or abusing the dog

For a court to render a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the plaintiff or their dog bite attorney must establish each of these points.

Strict Liability for Dog Owners and Keepers

Some states have a “one bite” rule that prevents a person from being civilly liable the first time their dog bites someone, but Massachusetts does not. As per Massachusetts General Laws 140 §155, dog owners have strict liability if their dog bites and injures another person. Even if the dog has never shown aggressive or questionable behavior in the past, the owner is still liable.

It is important to note that the dog’s intent is immaterial in this statute. Even if the dog was playing or fetching a ball when the bite occurred, the law still applies in the same way. In the same vein, the dog does not have to be acting aggressively or with an intent to cause harm.

Get Help Determining Negligence in Boston Dog Bite Lawsuits

Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you for your dog bite injury could be critical to effectively demonstrating the defendant’s negligence in your Boston dog bite case. Your dedicated dog bite lawyer could utilize police and criminal records, dog registration records, and medical records to establish all the relevant facts the court needs to accurately assess the situation. To learn more about your legal rights after a dog bite, how much your case may be worth or for a case evaluation, call today to schedule a confidential consultation.