While a dog is often considered one of a human’s best friends, according to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites will occur in the United States this year. Being bitten by a dog can be physically, and often psychologically, traumatic and results in serious injury and scarring. There were thirty-nine dog bite-related fatalities in the United States last year.
In Massachusetts, thanks in part to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 155, there is a legal right to recover damages for dog bite victims. The law states that dog owners are strictly liable for damages caused by their dogs, which means a victim does not need to prove that the dog owner acted negligently.
There are of course a few exceptions to this hard and fast rule. For example, a dog owner may not be found liable if the victim was trespassing or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, at the time the damage occurred. If a victim is under seven years of age, it is presumed that the minor was not trespassing or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.
So, what should you do if you are bitten by a dog? First, if you are able to, get the name and address of the dog owner. You not only need to be able to locate the dog owner in the future, but you may also need information regarding proof of rabies vaccinations. Then, seek medical attention. Meanwhile, take photographs of your injuries following the bite and overtime as the wounds heal and, in some cases, result in scars.
After receiving medical treatment, it is time to contact an attorney. Often, a claim against a dog owner for damages is pursued through the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Once the insurance company receives notice of the dog bite you can be sure that an insurance claim adjuster will be reaching out to you with questions. This is when you want to be able to direct the caller to someone with vast experience working with claim adjusters – your attorney.
Burke Law, PLLC is here to help. If you, or someone you know, is the victim of a dog bite contact Burke Law, PLLC today for a free initial consultation.