Personal Injury Attorney in Quincy
Were you bitten or attacked by a dog?
Each and every state has enacted its own set of dog bite laws; some laws are more in favor of the victim and some laws are more in favor of the dog's owner. If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog in the state of Massachusetts, then this state's dog bite laws are in your favor. The state of Massachusetts is a "strict liability" state; this means that the dog's owner is strictly liable for any injuries that their dog causes under the right circumstances. If you lived in a "one bite" state, then the dog's owner might get away with it on the first occurrence, but that's not the case in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws
Under Section 155 of the Massachusetts General Laws it states that if any dog causes harm or damage to someone's property or their body, or to a minor, then the dog's owner shall be held liable for such damage. However, if the alleged victim was trespassing, or teasing, or tormenting, or otherwise abusing the dog, then the dog's owner shall not be liable. If the person injured was a minor under the age of seven years at the time of the incident, then it will be presumed that the child was not trespassing, or teasing, or tormenting, or abusing the animal. In cases such as these where the child was under the age of seven, the burden of proof will be on the defendant.
Dog Bite Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that man's best friend bites more than 4.7 million people each year. Every year 800,000 Americans seek medical treatment for dog bites and half of those are children. Of those injured in a dog bite or attack, 386,000 of them require treatment in an emergency room and approximately 16 of those people die. (CDC) Unfortunately, the age group at the greatest risk of dog bites is young children and the highest rate of dog bite related injuries is in children ages 5 to 9 years of age. Due to their small stature, nearly two thirds of injuries among children ages four and younger are to their head and neck.
Who pays for damages?
A large percentage of dog bites and attacks involve the dog of a friend or family member. When this happens, the victim or if the victim was a child, the victim's parents feel uncomfortable pursuing damages since the dog's owner is a friend, a neighbor or a family member. Fortunately, there is no reason to worry, even though the dog's owner is technically liable, the damages are typically paid by an insurance company. The insurance company may be any one of the following depending on the circumstances:
- Renter's insurance policy
- Homeowner's insurance policy
- Motor home owner's insurance
- Landlord's property insurance
- Workers' compensation insurance (covering employees only)
- Auto insurance policy (if the accident occurred inside the vehicle or while the dog was tied to the vehicle)
While many dog bite claims are processed under someone's home or renter's insurance policy, there are cases where the dog's owner is not covered by such insurance. At times, defendants have been forced to pay for damages out of their own pocket when they either 1) didn't have insurance, or 2) had inadequate insurance, or 3) the defendant acted out of malice and utter disregard for the victim's safety and intentionally caused injury. In such cases the damages are established with the intention of punishing him or her for their actions.
Tips for Preventing Dog Bites
Children are especially vulnerable to a dog bite and attack due to their small size and lack of understanding of the consequences of approaching an unfamiliar dog. It's important to follow the following tips and to teach them to your children in order to prevent a dog bite from occurring.
- Don't approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not pet a dog until after you have allowed it to sniff you first.
- Don't pet or play with an unfamiliar dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Do not run from a dog.
- If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain still.
- If the dog knocks you over, roll up like a ball and remain still.
- Avoid making direct eye contact with an unfamiliar or aggressive dog.
- If the dog bites you, immediately tell an adult.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, it's important to contact a Quincy personal injury lawyer from Flanagan & Associates right away.
Attorney Flanagan is a former insurance adjuster, so he is intimately familiar with the insurance industry and the tactics used to devalue claims. He is a formidable adversary that can advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf. You may be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical treatment, future medical treatment for scar reduction, psychological counseling, lost income, medications, pain and suffering etc. Flanagan & Associates is proud to service the residents of Quincy and the greater South Shore area, including Weymouth, in their dog bite claims. Give a Quincy injury attorney at our firm a call today!