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Dog Bite Injuries Claims and Lawsuits in the Greater Springfield, MA, Area
Presented by Attorney Robert W. Shute, Personal Injury Lawyer
Many kinds of injury cases require the person who is harmed to prove that the person who injured them was negligent in failing to use reasonable care to avoid causing the injury. In Massachusetts, dog bites are an exception. Generally, the owner or keeper of a dog is responsible if the dog injures someone unless the injured person was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog.
About half the population owns dogs, which bring their owners joy, companionship, and even practical help. But their tendency to bite, whether aggressively or defensively, can create very serious problems. Injuries can be mild (such as small puncture wounds) or severe (disfiguration, dismemberment, psychological trauma). Every day approximately one thousand Americans go to the emergency room to be treated for dog bites, and each year there are several
dozen fatal dog bite attacks in this country.
There is a widespread perception that large, strong breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers pose especially severe dangers of attack. There is some truth to this inasmuch as a high percentage of fatal dog bites are from pits, Rotts, and Presa Canarios. Other notorious breeds include Doberman Pinschers, Chows, and even German Shepherds. But in fact these dogs statistically are not particularly liable to attack people. Rather, the most aggressive breeds for attacking humans are Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell Terriers. Of course, the larger breeds can do far more damage, which is why they are responsible for a disproportionate share of serious injuries and deaths.
Dog owners are responsible for taking proper precautions when their animal is around children, for warning people if the pet has an aggressive nature at all, and for making sure the creature is under their control at all times. But even with such measures taken, an animal can sometimes suddenly “snap” or attack someone by surprise.
Massachusetts is a “statutory strict liability” state, meaning there is no “one free bite” rule, the previous behavior of the dog is not a consideration, and it is not necessary to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. There are some other limited exceptions to these rules such as if the victim was committing a crime against the dog’s owner at the time of the bite, a veterinarian treating the animal, a trespasser, or if the dog was assisting the military or police.
A dog bite victim can pursue compensation under the homeowner’s insurance policy for liability insurance coverage and medical payments coverage. Nationally, over $300 million of insurance payments are paid out each year to dog bite victims. In Massachusetts, there is a special provision allowing a woman to be compensated if a dog attack results in visual scarring or disfigurement. In the event that someone is injured while trying to elude a dog attack, such damage can be compensated for as well.
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, it is important to take action quickly; evidence can disappear as wounds heal or witnesses dissipate, and statutes of limitations make it hard or impossible to seek redress later. To ensure you will be compensated fully, it is wise to retain the services of an experienced, competent personal injury attorney. At the Law Office of Robert W. Shute, I have more than a quarter century’s experience in personal injury law, and I know the ins and outs of negotiation and litigation of such suits, including dog bite cases.
Be sure to contact me – either through this site or by calling (413) 592-0999 – to set up a free, no-obligation consultation where I’ll carefully and fully evaluate your case and help you determine the best way to proceed.