Boston Dog Bite Lawyer
We often call dogs man’s best friend. They are loyal companions who are always happy to see us. But not all dogs are friendly to everyone. Sometimes, dogs get territorial or scared and react in ways that injure people, especially children.
A dog bite can leave the victim, child or adult, with severe physical injuries, scarring, and lifelong emotional trauma. Numerous Bostonians suffer severe dog bite injuries every year. Attacks can happen anywhere, from residences and backyards in Dorchester or the North End, to in public spaces like the Common or a sidewalk in Back Bay.
If you or a loved one, or tragically, your child, sustained dog bite injuries in Boston, you may have the right to receive compensation from the dog’s owner and others. At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we have been helping dog bite victims like you get compensation for their injuries for over 50 years. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the compensation you need to recover and rebuild after a dog bite injures you or a loved one.
Jacoby & Meyers LLP Gets Results
At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, our clients’ financial recovery is our goal. Dog bite injuries can cause severe injuries that require extensive medical care and cause lifelong suffering. Our Boston personal injury lawyers know cannot erase the trauma of a dog bite, but it can give our clients the crucial support they need to heal and rebuild.
For nearly 50 years, victims of all types of personal injuries, including dog bites, have turned to Jacoby & Meyers LLP for help securing the money they need. We offer compassionate, straightforward legal guidance, and a wealth of experience and know-how that helps us get results for our clients, year-in, year-out.
We offer a free consultation to anyone who has suffered a dog bite injury in Boston. Contact us today to speak for free with an experienced, caring legal professional about your rights.
Massachusetts Dog Bite Law
Massachusetts dog bite law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. Strict liability is a legal standard that means that when a dog attacks, the owner is liable for any injuries and damages caused, regardless of the reasonableness of the dog owner’s actions in failing to prevent the injury.
The only exception to this rule is if the dog attacks someone who is committing a crime or a wrongful act (such as trespassing), or who is teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog at the moment of the attack. Children under the age of seven are presumed under the law to have done nothing wrong and nothing to provoke an attack, and it is up to the dog’s owner to prove otherwise.
Massachusetts law also authorizes a procedure by which officials may, upon receiving a complaint, designate a dog as dangerous. The owner of a dog deemed to be a dangerous dog must follow specific rules designed to keep the public safe from the dog, including by confining the dog, and by carrying at least $100,000 in liability insurance against harm caused by the dog. If a dangerous dog injures someone in an attack, the law also makes the owner strictly liable for treble damages to the victim.
The team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP in Boston fights to make sure their clients who have suffered dog bite injuries receive the maximum compensation allowable under Massachusetts law.
Why Dogs Bite
Tens of thousands of Massachusetts homes have a dog as a pet. While most of these family pets are tame and friendly, even those animals can attack under certain conditions.
Bites often happen when a dog:
- Is scared
- Reacts to a stressful situation
- Feels threatened
- Feels like it needs to protect itself or its owner
- Is sick
- Is startled
- Is playing too aggressively
Dogs may also gnaw on your fingers or hand, or nip at your legs, while playing, without intending to cause harm. But dogs do not always understand the difference between playful activity and inflicting serious trauma.
No matter the circumstances of a bite, victims will often have a right under Massachusetts law to receive financial compensation for their injuries. Talk to the team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP today to learn about your rights if a dog bit and injured you or a loved one.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Injury Surveillance Program, over 6,000 dog bite injuries requiring medical attention occur every year in the Commonwealth. Children under 14 suffer the greatest proportion of bites requiring treatment in hospital emergency rooms, with the highest rates of bite injuries occurring among 10- to 14-year-olds.
For children, the most common injuries occur in the face and neck area. Dogs tend to bite adults in the arms and legs.
Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Soft tissue damage
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Bacterial or rabies infections
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Post-traumatic stress
Some dog bite infections can be life-threatening. Rabies, for example, is a virus transmitted through animal bites. It is nearly 100 percent fatal in humans if left untreated. That is why Massachusetts law requires all dogs to receive a rabies vaccination. Unfortunately, not all dog owners follow the law, and vaccines are never 100 percent effective.
No matter what type of injury a dog inflicts in Boston, our team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP has the experience and resources to get bite victims and their families the compensation they deserve.
Steps to Take After a Boston Dog Bite
The steps you take immediately after your dog bite can have a significant impact on your health, wellbeing, and legal rights. Consider following these steps to protect your wellbeing and ability to obtain full compensation for your injuries.
#1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Health and safety should always take top priority in the case of a dog bite or any other dog attack injuries that break the skin. Seek immediate medical attention for a dog bite injury. If necessary, call 911. If not, head directly to an urgent care clinic or your local hospital emergency room. Failure to address a dog bite injury right away could lead to dangerous infection, blood loss, or worsening physical trauma.
#2. Locate the Dog’s Owner to Find out Its Vaccination/Health History
Try to locate the dog’s owner as soon as possible to obtain information about the dog’s vaccination and health history, and about whether the dog has recently exhibited any concerning behavior that could indicate it is sick. A doctor will likely want to know this information to assess your risk of rabies or other infectious disease exposure.
Finding out who owns the dog also serves to tell you who may owe you compensation for your injuries. At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we strongly encourage bite victims not to discuss potential liability with a dog owner in the immediate aftermath of a bite, however.
Make your priority health and safety, and you need information from the owner about the dog. If you start talking about a lawsuit right away, the owner may not speak with you, and that could threaten your health. Trust that an experienced attorney can assert your legal rights, and focus on obtaining the health-related information you need.
If you do not know or cannot locate the dog’s owner, check the dog’s tags (if safe to do so) for identifying information, and then contact Boston Animal Care and Control to find out who owns the dog.
#3. Report the Bite
Under Massachusetts law, medical professionals who treat a dog bite must notify local animal control within 24 hours. So, if you seek medical care for the dog bite injury you suffered, chances are the medical provider will alert animal control to what happened.
Just the same, you may also want to report the bite to animal control. Report a bite to protect public health and safety and enlist local government help in determining whether you were exposed to rabies or another transmissible disease. Animal control can do an investigation and has the authority to quarantine a dog, if necessary, to determine its health status.
#4. Speak With an Experienced Boston Dog Bite Lawyer Right Away
Talking to a lawyer may be the furthest thing from your mind in the immediate aftermath of a dog bite. But contacting an attorney quickly puts you in the best possible position to obtain compensation for your injuries, and to take other steps to protect the public from a potentially dangerous dog.
Jacoby & Meyers LLP in Boston offers a free case consultation to dog bite victims and their loved ones. Speaking to an experienced legal professional from our team is quick, easy, and comes with no obligation to you.
Boston Dog Bite FAQs
According to a recent statistical analysis of dog bites in the United States, 48 percent of all households in the U.S. own at least one dog. It is no surprise that dog bites are a relatively common occurrence. Approximately 300,000 patients seek emergency room treatment for dog bites each year, making dog bites the 13th most common cause of emergency department visits.
Dog bites are both mentally and physically traumatic and can affect the victim’s life for months or even years following the attack. Fortunately, there are several laws in place to protect the rights of dog bite victims. If a dog in Boston bites you or a loved one, a Boston dog bite attorney will help protect your legal right to compensation for the injuries you sustained.
To help you determine the best way to move forward after a dog attack, we have compiled answers to some of the most common questions about Boston dog bite claims.
What should I do if a dog in Boston bites me?
If a dog in Boston bites you, your first concern should be to ensure your health and safety.
Follow these steps to protect yourself and your right to fair compensation for your injuries:
- Remove yourself from harm’s way and call 911. If the animal is still at large, be sure to notify the police so that they can contain the animal and prevent further attacks.
- Seek medical attention. You must seek medical assistance, even if you do not think your injuries are severe. The adrenaline from the attack can mask the pain from your injuries so that you do not feel it until days or even weeks later. In addition, dog bites can quickly become infected, which can cause severe and even life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is critical that you seek medical attention, whether from paramedics, an emergency room, or your primary care physician, as soon as possible after the attack.
- Obtain contact information. If you are able, write down the contact information for the dog’s guardian, owners, and any individuals who witnessed the attack. Your attorney will use this contact information to obtain statements to support your claim for damages.
- Take photographs of the attack site. If possible, take photos of the scene, including the animal involved, your injuries, and any other evidence that can support your case.
- Contact a Boston dog bite attorney. A lawyer familiar with dog bite laws, dangerous dog laws, and personal injuries cases in Boston can help you seek compensation for your dog attack injuries.
What damages can I claim for a dog bite injury in Boston?
Damages for dog bite claims in Boston differ widely depending on the victim’s condition, the cause of the attack, the dog’s status, and the dog owner’s level of negligence. Your dog bite attorney will be able to analyze your case to determine the value of your case.
Damages you can claim include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Long-term medical care
- Medication, medical equipment, and prostheses
- Lost work income
- Loss of employment
- Training and education for new position or career
- Treatment for PTSD and emotional distress
- Loss of use or loss of limb
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of companionship
If you have lost a loved one due to a dog bite injury, you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim for funeral costs, loss of income, and loss of companionship. Whether it was you or a close family member whom a dog bit, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss fair compensation for your losses.
Who is at fault in a Boston dog bite incident?
One of the primary aspects of your dog bite case is the determination of fault. For your claim to succeed, you will need to prove that the accident was due to negligent or malicious actions of the dog’s owner or guardian. A dog bite lawyer will help you compile the evidence you need to prove fault so that you can file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Massachusetts G.L. Ch 140 §155 states that the owner or keeper of the dog is liable for any damages or injury caused by the dog. If the keeper or owner is a minor, responsibility for the dog’s conduct lies with the minor’s parent or guardian. If you are not sure who is at fault in a Boston dog bite case, contact a Boston injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases. They will analyze your case and determine who is at fault, so you know whom you should file your claim against.
If you are attacked by a dog that is deemed dangerous or a nuisance dog per M.G.L. Part I, Title XX, Ch 140 §157, your case may be treated differently than in other circumstances, so it is important to speak with an attorney who is familiar with Massachusetts dog attack laws.
How much will I receive for a dog bite claim in Boston?
Every situation is different, so there is no specific amount you can plan to receive for a dog bite settlement. Depending on your situation, a dog bite settlement can be anywhere from $1,000 up to over $1 million. Your dog bite lawyer will evaluate your claim for economic and non-economic losses to help ensure that you receive the maximum possible settlement for your circumstances.
Economic losses include damages calculated from specific financial documentation and expert analysis. This can include loss of current and future income, immediate and future hospital and medical costs, therapy expenses, and other monetary losses associated with the accident. Your attorney may hire an economic expert to analyze your lost income potential and other economic losses.
Non-economic losses are more difficult to quantify and involve damage to your comfort, happiness, and well-being. Such losses include pain, scarring, disfigurement, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment, reduced mobility, emotional suffering, and mental anguish. If you have lost a loved one due to a dog attack, loss of companionship would be a non-economic loss you could claim.
In addition, Massachusetts law allows victims of dog bites to claim punitive damages in certain circumstances. Economic and non-economic damages encompass the losses you incurred due to the dog bite, while the court uses punitive damages to punish the at-fault party for the conduct that led to the dog attack. Courts rarely award punitive damages, which are usually reserved for cases in which the at-fault party was extremely willfully negligent or purposefully malicious.
A Boston dog bite attorney will help you determine the total monetary value of your case, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Do I need an attorney if I am bitten by a dog in Boston?
If you are injured in a dog attack in Boston, seek assistance from an injury attorney who is familiar with Boston dog laws. Even if the authorities have resolved the situation, you should not have to pay for medical treatment or other issues that arise due to a dog bite. With an attorney, you can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
You may receive a settlement offer from the dog owner, insurance company, or legal representative. Even if the settlement seems like a fair amount, these offers tend to be significantly lower than the victim needs to cover all expenses incurred due to a dog bite. Rather than signing the first settlement offer, speak with an attorney who can guide you through the settlement process.
Be wary when speaking to the opposing party’s legal counsel or insurance company. Keep in mind that they want to reduce or eliminate their liability. In some cases, the opposing party will try to reduce their responsibility for the attack by placing the blame fully or partially on you.
They may ask leading questions or try to get you to sign a statement that implies that you are somehow at fault. A seasoned dog bite attorney knows these tactics and can help you navigate unscrupulous settlement offers, so you can obtain a fair settlement.
When should I contact an attorney after a dog bite in Boston?
Most attorneys and insurance companies settle injury claims out of court to reduce legal expenses for everyone involved. However, your attorney will need time to build and file a case in court if negotiations fail.
Massachusetts places a statute of limitations of three years on personal injury claims, meaning you must file a lawsuit within this period to claim damages for injuries caused by the dog attack. While three years may seem like ample time, filing the claim and negotiating with the opposing party can be time-consuming, especially if you are in long-term care or therapy.
Therefore, you should contact a dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible after the event. Your attorney will immediately begin compiling evidence to support your claim, including photos, witness testimony, and expert analysis, to build a strong claim on your behalf. By giving them sufficient time to prepare your case, you improve your chances for a positive outcome.
Act Quickly to Protect Your Rights
You have a limited amount of time under Massachusetts law three years in most cases to take legal action for compensation after getting injured by a dog bite in Boston. Once that window closes, you lose your rights to financial damages for your injuries and losses.
Practically speaking, however, nearly all dog bite injury victims in Boston may need to take legal action far sooner to give themselves the best chance to receive the compensation they deserve. As time passes, evidence relevant to a dog bite case becomes more difficult to obtain, and witnesses to a dog bite incident start to forget important details.
You need a lawyer acting on your behalf as soon as possible, to collect that evidence and to begin building a strong case on your behalf. Do not wait to reach out to a skilled attorney like a member of the team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP to make the most of your valuable legal rights.
Speak With a Boston Dog Bite Lawyer Today
A dog attack traumatizes the victim physically and emotionally, sometimes for a lifetime. Dog bite victims in Boston deserve compensation for the harm they suffered. A skilled Boston dog bite attorney from Jacoby & Meyers LLP can help them get it.
If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries in a dog bite incident in Boston, contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today online or at (877) 472-30613 for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal rights. You have no time to lose.
Finkelstein & Partners, LLP
15 Court Square
Boston, MA 02108
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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