A dog can be a wonderful addition to a family. As a nation of dog-lovers, our pets bring us joy, unconditional love and years of companionship.
Unfortunately, some of them also bite. Those bites can sometimes be quite serious, resulting in major injuries. In fact, about 1 in every 60 people in the U.S. suffers a dog bite annually. Approximately 1 million dog bite victims seek medical attention and 30,000 must endure some type of reconstruction surgery. Children are the most common victim.
At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, our Massachusetts dog bite injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent clients in the wake of a serious or fatal dog attack. The good news for victims is Massachusetts dog bite law is one of the toughest in the country, particularly when it comes to the protection of children.Dog Bite Injuries
Severity of dog bite injuries depends on many factors, including type of breed, size of the victim, duration of the attack and how quickly the victim received medical attention.
The Massachusetts Department of Health reports head/face/neck injuries stemming from dog bites is most common among young children. In fact, 73 percent of children under 4 who sustain dog bite injuries will suffer injury to these regions, as will nearly half of all children between the ages of 5 and 14. Upon receiving medical care, these victims should be specifically examined for facial fractures and nerve damage.
When an adult is involved, usually injuries are sustained to arms, legs and torso.
Common injuries reported among dog bite victims include:
- Tissue loss
- Crush injuries
- Fractured bones
- Sprains and strains
- Infections, such as rabies and C canimorsus
All dog bite victims should first seek immediate medical attention, even if the wound doesn’t initially seem severe. At the very least, doctors will want to prescribe antibiotics to ensure a serious infection does not develop.
Bites should also be reported to the local animal control office.
Although frequently serious dog bites are inflicted by a family pet or one beloved by a neighbor, family member or close friend, many times, damages for dog bite injury lawsuits are paid by homeowners’ insurance claims. Our legal team can work as amicably as possible to file these claims, so as to secure your compensation, but also preserve your relationships.Massachusetts Dog Bite Law
The Commonwealth’s dog bite law is codified in MGL c. 140, s. 155.
In a majority of cases, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for injuries suffered in a dog attack. The only exceptions are when the victim was trespassing or committing some other crime or abusing the dog.
Children under the age of 7 are presumed to have done nothing to warrant an attack. If the child is alleged to have been teasing or abusing the dog or trespassing, the burden of proving an exception for liability will be on defendant dog owner.
Of course, not all dogs are vicious and even those that bite may not have had any history of aggression. But whereas other states require plaintiffs to show owner knew the dog had a propensity for violence, our state does not.
Part of the reason Massachusetts legislators were so strict on this point is because dog bites are such a major problem. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates more than half of all Massachusetts residents own a pet. Further, 1 in 4 households in Massachusetts own a dog. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Injury Surveillance Program, there are an estimated 6,300 dog bite injuries reported in Massachusetts that require medical attention every year.
Children between the ages of 10 and 14 had the highest rate of any other age group (157 per 100,000 population), followed by children between the ages of 5 and 9 (150 per 100,000) and then children 4 and under (128 per 100,000).Preventing Dog Bites
Many dog owners often decry the disparagement of certain breeds, but it is an indisputable fact that most dog bite fatalities involve either pit bulls or Rottweilers.
Other breeds are responsible for deaths, but to a much lesser extent.
Still, even study authors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who penned these statutes oppose breed-specific laws. That is largely because with proper training and supervision, most dogs won’t become a risk to others.
The American Kennel Club informs us that this means owners must properly socialize their dog, which reduces the risk they will bite out of fear. Dogs should also be well-trained to obey basic commands of “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “heel,” and to drop toys on command so no one has to reach into their mouth to retrieve it.
Owners should be especially cautious when introducing a dog to new situations or in environments where it may feel teased or threatened. Teaching the dog non-aggressive games like fetch (as opposed to tug-of-war) can help reduce inappropriate behavior.
Those who have suffered injury in Boston as a result of a dog bite should contact our experienced legal team.
Contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.
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