Lawyer Helping Victims by Defining the Difference in RI and MA Dog Bite Laws
Under the laws of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, dog bite victims can receive financial compensation from dog owners and people responsible for dogs within their custody. Both states’ laws actually make it easier for bite victims to recover compensation than in other personal injury cases, though, under Rhode Island’s “enclosure” provision, the ordinary standard still applies in some cases. If you, your spouse, your child, or your pet has suffered a vicious dog bite, it is important that you stand up for your legal rights and seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.
“Strict Liability” for Dog Bite Injuries
In Massachusetts, the rule is easy: all dog bite cases are subject to the rule of “strict liability.” This means that bite victims are entitled to compensation without the need to prove negligence or other fault on the part of the dog owner. There are exceptions for situations involving trespassing or abusive treatment of the dog that provokes the attack – and dog owners will typically argue these exceptions in order to try to avoid liability – but as a victim you should never assume that you are not entitled to compensation.
Rhode Island applies the strict liability rule as well in cases involving dogs outside of their enclosures. What constitutes an “enclosure” is somewhat open to interpretation, with the courts defining an enclosure to mean, “something to give a man reasonable notice that he is entering upon occupied premises, where there may be a dog.” In any event, if you are on your property or on a public street or sidewalk at the time of the attack, the strict liability rule would apply.
Seeking Compensation in “Enclosure” Cases in Rhode Island
If you suffer a dog bite in an enclosure in Rhode Island (remember, the “enclosure” rule does not apply in Massachusetts) you can still recover compensation as long as:
- The dog owner or its keeper knew about the dog’s propensity to bite, and
- The owner or keeper was negligent in allowing the attack to occur.
A dog’s propensity to bite is usually established by presenting evidence of previous attacks. This is commonly known as the “one-bite rule” in Rhode Island. Essentially, the owner or keeper gets one bite for “free” before it can be held liable for attacks occurring within the dog’s enclosure.
Stand Up for Your Legal Rights
Regardless of the facts surrounding your dog attack, you should speak with an attorney in order to obtain a thorough evaluation of your legal rights. Dog bite cases can be tricky, so you want someone with experience on your side.
Contact Bottaro Law Firm about Your Dog Bite Injuries
The attorneys at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC provide experienced, detail-oriented, and compassionate legal representation for victims of dog bites in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (866) 529-9700 or contact us online today.