Not many people like to think cute and cuddly canines would ever hurt their fellow humans, but it happens more often than you might think. In 2013, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) reported that 58 percent of their total animal exposures were dog bites, and 71 percent of those dog bites occurred from dogs owned by other persons.
If you were bitten by a dog and suffered an injury or property damage as a result, a Dorchester dog bite lawyer may be able to help. A personal injury attorney with experience in these types of incidents may be able to guide you and your case toward a positive result.
Massachusetts state law specifically addresses the liability of dog owners for dog bites in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140 §155. Under this statute, Dorchester dog owners may be held civilly liable when their dog bites another person if that dog causes personal injury or property damage.
When it comes to the issues of fault in dog bite cases, states are divided between two approaches, negligence or strict liability. The dog bite statute in Massachusetts imposes strict liability on dog owners. Under the doctrine of strict liability, a party injured by a dog bite does not need to prove the defendant dog owner was at fault. Even if an owner acted with reasonable care to prevent or rectify the situation, the dog owner would still be liable.
On the other hand, plaintiffs in negligence cases must prove that the dog owner failed to act with reasonable care. Plaintiffs injured in a dog attack in Dorchester could pursue a negligence claim against dog owners with an attorney’s assistance, but usually, they file their claim under the Massachusetts strict liability statute because it lessens the burden of proof compared to a negligence claim.
The statute of limitations for an injured party to file a lawsuit related to a dog bite is the same as that applicable to other personal injury claims in Massachusetts—namely, three years from the date of the injurious incident. However, if a dog owner leaves the state after the injury occurs, the statute of limitations may “toll”—or pause—the time limit, affording more time to a prospective plaintiff for filling their case.
If a Dorchester dog bite lawyer pursues action against a dog owner on an injured party’s behalf, the owner may seek to use three statutory defenses given by Massachusetts state law. Under the first potential defense, if the injured person was trespassing on the dog owner’s private property at the time of the incident, the injured person may not seek damages for an ensuing animal attack.
Under the second potential defense, if the injured party was committing a tort during the time of the injury, they would not be allowed to seek recovery. Finally, under the third potential defense, an injured party who was “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog at the time of the attack could not recover under state law.
If you suffered a bite, injury, or property loss from a dog attacking you, it may be worthwhile to seek legal assistance and find out what options for legal recourse you may have. A Dorchester dog bite lawyer could review your situation and help you understand the possibilities in your situation. The clock is ticking on your right to seek the recovery to which you may be entitled. Get started on your case by connecting with an attorney today.