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Dog Bite and Dog Attack Injuries

The Owner or Keeper of a Dog can be liable for your injuries even if the Dog did not bite you.

Although we generally perceive dogs as friendly and central units of the family, it is estimated that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten each year by dogs. However, this only represents a fraction of the injuries caused by dogs each year. Unknown to many, Massachusetts state law does not limit recovery to those injuries caused by bites, but rather to any injury caused by the dog.

Massachusetts law states that “If any dog shall do any damage to…the body of any person, the owner or keeper…shall be liable for such damage.”[1]

To simply label this law the “dog bite statute” is incorrect. This law covers all injuries resulting from dogs, not just those connected with bites. For example, if an unleashed dog were to jump up and greet one with excitement, knocking him or her over, the owner or keeper of the dog could be found liable for damages resulting from that injury. Owners are responsible to control their dogs so that they do not jump on and injure people. In other words, under state law, it is not just owners of aggressive dogs who may be found liable for their pets’ behavior, but all dog owners of any type of dog. The law places the responsibility on the owner to properly control and train their dog. There is no requirement under the statute that the dog owner or keeper had prior knowledge of his or her pet’s “vicious character” or propensity hostile behavior.

Provided the dog is not being teased, abused, or provoked, the law makes no distinction between dogs “just playing” and those with vicious intent, holding the owner of each liable for the injuries they may cause. As such, if you have been in any way injured by the actions of a dog, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Swartz and Lynch LLP. You may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have incurred.


[1] MGLA 140 § 155.
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