According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. More than 300,000 dog bite victims visit emergency rooms annually, and about 750,000 require some type of medical care. Often, these injuries are serious. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in a single recent year, more than 28,000 reconstructive procedures were performed as a result of dog bites.
Although dog bites are relatively common and many of those bites are serious, dog bite fatalities are rare. From 2005-2017, the nation saw an average of about 33 dog attack fatalities annually. Nearly half of these deaths involved children under the age of 10, heavily weighted toward babies and toddlers. Very young children are more vulnerable to dog attacks for many reasons, such as:
Massachusetts law explicitly makes the owner of a dog (or the parents of a minor dog owner) responsible for most harm caused by the dog, whether that means injury to a person or to property. While some states require that the dog owner was negligent, or had prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies, Massachusetts places the burden on the dog owner unless:
If the victim is under the age of seven, the law creates a presumption that he or she does not fall within one of these exceptions, and the burden is on the defendant dog owner to prove otherwise.
Although the statute regarding dog bite liability is straightforward, personal injury litigation rarely is. Complex procedural requirements, the need to assemble and authenticate evidence, the obligation to provide discovery materials to the defense, and other technical requirements can be overwhelming to a person inexperienced in the law. That’s all the more true for an injury victim who may already be struggling with pain, ongoing medical care, mounting medical debt, and temporary or long-term limitations.
Some dog bite injuries are temporary, and may ultimately amount to little more than a painful inconvenience. Others can cause lifelong scarring, necessitate multiple surgical procedures, and otherwise derail the victim’s life. Thus, damages in a dog bite case can vary significantly. Some of the most common types of damages awarded in dog bite cases include:
An experienced Massachusetts dog bite attorney can provide more specific information about the likely value of your dog bite claim.
Gathering information about your rights and options is the first step toward making good decisions for you and your family. You can take that step right now, by scheduling a free consultation with attorney Kevin J. Broderick. Just call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site.
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