You’ve been bitten by a neighbor’s dog that has been known to be aggressive. Can you bring a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner? How about a claim against the owner of the property on which the dog bite occurred? In Massachusetts, the answer to both may be yes.
Strict Liability Claims Against Massachusetts Dog Owners
Massachusetts’ “Dog Bite Statute” holds dog owners strictly liable when a dog injures a person or causes property damage. Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 140 § 155. Strict liability means that the dog’s owner or keeper is responsible, no matter what the circumstances are, as long as the injured person was not trespassing, committing a tort, or tormenting the dog before the dog bite occurred. So if you have been injured by someone else’s dog, in most cases, the dog’s owner will automatically have to pay for your injuries and property damage. This is true regardless of whether or not the dog was known to be aggressive prior to the incident.
Negligence Claims Against Massachusetts Landowners
The MA Dog Bite Statute only applies to a dog’s owner and keeper. However, a landowner or landlord of the property where the incident occurred may also be liable for dog bite injuries and property damage. A property owner (or landlord) owes a duty of reasonable care to persons on his or her property. This duty extends to risks of harm that could have been foreseen. So while property owners can’t insure safety in all situations, if the landowner/landlord had reason to believe that an aggressive dog was being kept on his or her property, he may be liable for damage that the dog causes.
These kinds of claims involve a review of facts that might tend to show the property owner knew the dog had aggressive tendencies – such as whether the property owner lived onsite, whether prior complaints had been made to the property owner about the dog, what type of dog was involved, whether the owner had spent time around the dog, and other similar facts.
Contact Us Today
Mike Bottaro is an experienced dog bite injury lawyer who can review the facts in your case and help you decide whether to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner and the property owner or landlord. By contacting us as soon as possible for a free consultation, you help us protect you, by giving us the opportunity to gather the important information we need to prepare a claim and seek the justice you deserve.