A dog bite is a serious incident, and it must be handled accordingly. Dog bite victims often suffer substantial losses – medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress – and recovering compensation for these losses can be an absolute necessity. Fortunately, both Massachusetts and Rhode Island have special laws designed to protect victims of vicious dog bites that make dog owners financially liable for victims’ bite-related losses.
At Bottaro Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping dog bite victims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island enforce their legal rights. We have helped numerous clients secure substantial compensation for dog bites; and, if you have a claim, we can help you win the compensation that you deserve. A dog bite can change your life in ways in which you couldn’t have previously imagined. To make sure that you don’t bear the burden of the attack for years to come, let us put our experience and relentless will to win to work for you.
Information for Dog Bite Victims in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, dog bite claims are governed by a rule known as “strict liability.” Under Massachusetts’ strict liability law, a dog’s owner or keeper is responsible for any bite victim’s injuries – regardless of the circumstances involved in the attack. This is significant because it removes the requirement to prove negligence, which is usually required in order to secure compensation in a claim for personal injuries.
There are only two exceptions to Massachusetts’ strict liability rule for dog bites. Strict liability does not apply if:
- The victim was trespassing or committing another violation at the time of the attack; or,
- The victim incited the attack by teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.
For children under the age of seven, the law presumes that all dog attacks are unprovoked, and that the child was not trespassing at the time of the attack. In order to avoid liability, the dog’s owner or keeper bears the burden of proving that the child was to blame.
As a result, in many dog bite cases, the victim will be entitled to full financial compensation from the dog’s owner or keeper. In addition, dog bite claims are often covered by the owner’s home insurance policy. At Bottaro Law Firm, we can use Massachusetts’ strict liability law to help you recover the money that you need to move on from your attack.
Information for Dog Bite Victims in Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s dog bite law is different from Massachusetts’ in that it only imposes strict liability under certain circumstances. Specifically, Rhode Island’s strict liability law only applies in situations where the attack occurs outside of the dog’s enclosure. For example, if a dog escaped from a fenced yard and attacked you on the sidewalk, this is a common scenario where Rhode Island’s strict liability rule would apply.
If, on the other hand, you were attacked within the dog’s enclosure, your dog bite claim will be governed by the law of negligence. This is the same law that applies in car accidents, boating accidents, and most other types of personal injury claims. Securing compensation in these cases requires evidence that the dog’s owner or keeper knew about the dog’s propensity to bite – a requirement commonly known as the “one-bite rule” in Rhode Island. What constitutes an “enclosure” can often be a question of fact, and our legal team is experienced in pursuing claims based on both negligence and strict liability.
What About Other Types of Animal Attacks?
Importantly, Massachusetts and Rhode Island strict liability laws are not restricted to dog bites. Massachusetts’ law covers “any damage to either the body or property of any person,” while Rhode Island’s law imposes strict liability whenever a dog “assaults, bites, or otherwise injures any person.” As a result, these laws cover attacks other than bites – including situations where a dog lunges at or unexpectedly frightens someone, resulting in a fall.
In addition, while both states have strict liability laws specific to dogs, under general negligence laws, victims can seek compensation for other types of animal attacks, as well. If you have been injured in any type of animal attack in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, then we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation about your legal rights.
Speak with an Attorney at Bottaro Law Firm about Your Animal Attack in MA or RI
If you have suffered a dog bite or any other type of animal injury in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, contact us today to speak with attorney Mike Bottaro about your case. Call (401) 777-7777, text (401) 300-5007, or tell us what happened online and schedule your free initial consultation today.
Reasons to Choose Bottaro Law for your Dog Bite Case
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Personal Injury Lawyer Mike Bottaro Answers Common Questions about Seeking Financial Compensation After a Dog Attack in Massachusetts or Rhode Island
1. What is the “one bite” rule?
The “one bite” rule is a law that requires proof that a dog owner had prior knowledge of his or her dog’s vicious propensities before he or she can be held liable for an attack victim’s injuries. However, the “one bite” rule is not universal – in fact, in Massachusetts it does not apply at all, and in Rhode Island it only applies under certain, limited circumstances. In Rhode Island, for the “one bite” rule to apply, you must be in the dog’s “enclosure” at the time of the attack.
2. Can I seek compensation for non-bite injuries?
Yes. While Massachusetts’ and Rhode Island’s dog attack laws are commonly referred to as “dog bite” laws, they actually cover all attack-related injuries. So, for example, if you fell while being attacked by a dog, you would be able to seek compensation for your injuries from the fall as well as any bite-related injuries.
3. Can I still file a claim if I provoked the dog (either accidentally or on purpose)?
This is actually a somewhat complicated question. But, the most important thing to know is this: You should never make assumptions about your legal rights until you speak with an experienced attorney. While Massachusetts’ dog bite law includes a specific exception for cases where the victim “was teasing, tormenting or abusing” the dog, Rhode Island’s law does not. In any case, in order to determine whether you have a claim, it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and careful legal analysis.
4. Why should I hire a lawyer to assist with my dog bite claim?
Many people view dog bites as “minor” injuries. This is a mistake. Dog bites and other attack-related injuries can cause severe and lasting damage – including damage to the muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons in the body. While dog bite claims will frequently be covered by the dog owner’s home insurance policy, if you try to deal with the insurance adjusters on your own, you could end up with far less compensation than you deserve. With the consequences of your injuries likely to last well into the future, it is crucial to hire an attorney who can help you avoid settling too soon and for anything less than maximum compensation.
5. Can dog bite victims seek financial compensation for pain and suffering?
Yes, and this is another reason why it is so important to hire an experienced attorney. When you deal with the insurance adjusters, they will not advise you of your legal rights. They work for the insurance companies, and it is their job to make sure that you receive as little compensation as possible. So, they will try to get you to accept a small sum for your outstanding medical bills, and they will not tell you that you are entitled to compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of income, and a variety of other types of financial and emotional losses.
6. How do I file a dog bite claim in Massachusetts or Rhode Island?
In most cases, dog bite claims are handled through the dog owner’s home insurance. Home insurance policies typically cover dog bite injuries, and filing an insurance claim is typically the best and quickest way to secure compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
That said, for the reasons discussed above, you need to be very careful about dealing with the insurance companies on your own. We strongly recommend that you allow us to file your insurance claim for you. We have years of experience dealing with insurance adjusters, and we can shield you from their tactics while fighting to secure the largest possible settlement on your behalf.
7. How much does it cost to hire you for my dog bite claim?
At the Bottaro Law Firm, we handle dog bite cases in Massachusetts and Rhode Island on a contingency-fee basis. This means three things:
- We do not charge hourly rates.
- We will not ask you for an upfront retainer fee.
- There are no hidden costs associated with your claim.
In short, it costs you nothing out of pocket to hire the Bottaro Law Firm. If we help you secure a financial recovery, then we will keep a percentage as our fee for representing you during the process. If we don’t win, you don’t pay – plus, we guarantee that our fees will never be higher than your settlement. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!