While walking my own dog, the neighbor’s bit me. How does the law protect me after a dog bite?

An aggressive dog is a menace to the neighborhood and potentially a source of legal trouble for the owner. In Massachusetts, a dog and its owner are not granted any leniency in terms of civil liability even if this is the first occasion on which the dog has bitten someone. Additionally, since Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state, even if a dog does not have a history of aggression, is restrained or an owner otherwise takes “reasonable precautions,” the owner is still at fault. Dog owners are generally responsible for “dog bite” injuries or other injuries caused or inflicted by their dog.

If you bitten by a dog and are injured, take photos of your injuries and of the dog, if possible. Seek medical treatment and report the incident to the local dog officer or the police. If you later decide to make a claim, having done so this will be very helpful.

There may be local ordinances against unleashed dogs and many other factors that may come into play. Most homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies cover injuries caused by a dog. In addition to biting, dogs can cause injury by knocking people down or off of a bicycle. But don’t think the dog owner’s insurance company is going to help you. It’s job is to protect the dog owner and minimize the amount it may have to pay. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as one of our partners, will be able to assess the individual circumstances of a dog attack, give you sound legal advice, and pursue an appropriate claim for money damages.

All this assumes, however, that neither you nor your own dog did anything to provoke the neighbor’s animal. The law permits the dog owner to avoid or limit liability if he or she can show that the victim of the bite or other injury was trespassing or in any way harassing or tormenting the dog.

Call our office today to discuss your options for compensation following a dog bite or another injury.

Categories: Questions & Answers.