Whether you are a dog owner or a victim of a dog bite or other dog-related aggression, it is important to understand Massachusetts law regarding dog bites and the labeling of a dog as “dangerous.” Under Massachusetts law, there cannot be a declaration that a dog is “dangerous” based solely upon its growling or barking. The dog’s breed is also not sufficient by itself to declare a particular dog to be “dangerous”. People may commonly describe breeds such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and others as “dangerous” or “aggressive”, but that is not a legal declaration applicable to your specific dog.
A dog is not “dangerous”, if “the dog was protecting or defending itself, its offspring, another domestic animal or a person from attack or assault” or if “the person who was attacked or threatened by the dog was committing a crime upon the person or property of the owner or keeper of the dog.” If the dog was provoked or threatened, or if the person or animal that was attacked or threatened by the dog entered, without the owner’s permission, an enclosure or structure in which the dog was being kept apart from the public, then the dog cannot be labeled “dangerous.”
There is an exception when a child under seven years old is involved, in which case, the owner of the dog will have to prove that his or her dog was not at fault. Overall, though, the dog is “dangerous” only if there was no justifiable reason for the dog’s actions.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you may have a good chance of recovering for your injuries unless you were trespassing or you were tormenting the dog. If you were not in the wrong, seek the assistance of a qualified attorney in order to take legal action right away. You have three years from the time of the dog bite to file your lawsuit. You should seek the guidance of an experienced injury attorney shortly after the incident to record the facts and preserve any evidence you may need to seek compensation.
If you are a victim of a dog bite in Massachusetts, contact our attorneys at our Worcester office to schedule your free consultation and review your dog bite case.