A dog owner is usually liable for the injuries you sustain when their dog bites you. That means you can file an insurance claim or sue the dog owner to pursue compensation for the harm, including medical expenses related to the bite.
However, the dog owner may argue that you were trespassing on their premises when the dog attacked you. What are your options in that case, and are you entitled to legal compensation? Consult a Boston personal injury lawyer to understand your legal options. We can also help you file a claim and provide legal representation.
What Is a Trespasser?
A trespasser is someone who unlawfully gains entry into someone’s property or land. However, entering someone’s property or premises doesn’t automatically make you a trespasser. In some situations, an alleged trespasser may have implied permission to gain entry into the property. An example is a door-to-door salesman who enters a property without a “no soliciting sign.”
The outcome of your compensation claim can dramatically be affected if a homeowner claims you were trespassing. That’s why you should have the legal representation of a skilled Boston dog bite lawyer. They can create a strong case and show you were not trespassing and why the defendant should compensate you for the injuries.
What is the Legal Duty of Dog or Homeowners to Trespassers?
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Sec 155 dictates that a dog owner may be civilly liable for injuries caused by their dog to another person. However, the following conditions must apply:
- The dog must cause personal injury or property damage.
- The injured person must not be a trespasser, must not have provoked the dog, and must not have committed another tort at the time of the incident.
Under Massachusetts dog bite statutes, it doesn’t matter if the dog has never acted aggressively. The dog owner can be held liable for your injuries. Working with a skilled dog bite lawyer in Boston can enhance your chances of getting the maximum compensation you deserve.
Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases in Massachusetts
Homeowners can be held strictly liable for the injuries you sustain if their dog bites you unless you were teasing, trespassing, or taunting on their property. Strict liability legally means that the intention, desire, or other circumstances surrounding the case don’t apply. The simple fact that the dog injured you is enough to prove that they’re responsible for your injuries.
Children are afforded special protections under Massachusetts dog bite statutes because they’re disproportionately affected by dog bite injuries. When a minor under seven is injured by a dog, the presumption is that they were not trespassing, tormenting, abusing, or committing a tort.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
Under the strict liability rule, you may not recover compensation if you provoked or teased a dog before it attacked you. However, you may recover compensation under Massachusetts’s modified comparative negligence law if you were less than 51% responsible for the injuries. Your compensation amount will be reduced in proportion to your share of responsibility.
Proving Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
A unique characteristic of dog bite laws in Massachusetts is that an injured person who brings a civil lawsuit has the burden of proving to the jury that they were harmed due to the dog owner’s negligence. Strict liability offenses don’t have much leniency, and the dog owner will be held liable for the injuries in successful lawsuits.
To prove your right to compensation for the dog bites, you must show the following:
- The defendant was responsible for or owned the dog at the time of the injuries
- You were not instigating, tormenting, or provoking the dog at that time
- You were legally on the property
Boston doesn’t have a one-bite” rule, meaning you can recover compensation even if the owner didn’t know the dog would become aggressive. An experienced dog bite attorney in Boston can help you prove the above circumstances and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover in a Dog Bite Case?
If your personal injury lawyer in Boston proves that you were not trespassing and, therefore, should get compensation for the injuries, you could be entitled to compensation for more than just the dog bites.
Massachusetts laws cover more than just dog bites and expressly cover damage to a person’s body or property. That means that if someone’s dog knocks you over and you sustain injuries, you may still be able to file a lawsuit.
You can recover compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and depression
- Disfigurement and scarring
Let an experienced dog bite attorney in Boston, MA, assess the damage and evaluate how much you can recover in compensation. They will also fight to defend you against insurance adjusters who may want to shortchange you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Dog bite victims don’t have unlimited time to file a lawsuit for injuries or damages. Massachusetts personal injury statutes of limitations provide up to three years from the date of the attack for victims to file a lawsuit. Waiting longer than that significantly reduces the chances of successfully pursuing the compensation you deserve.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Fighting for Your Rights
Thousands of dog bite victims are hospitalized yearly, with most injuries extending beyond the actual wound. Pursuing compensation can be complex, especially if the dog owner claims the victim was negligent. It helps to work with a skilled dog bite lawyer to assess the case, determine liability, and fight for fair compensation for the damages.
Our lawyers use the latest technology, specially designed software, and thorough research to provide personalized services in personal injury cases. After an injury, we want our clients to focus on recovering and rebuilding their lives while we handle all the legal aspects of their claims for a favorable outcome. Contact us to schedule a FREE case assessment.