Articles Posted in Dog Bites

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Dogs are said to be “man’s best friend” (and woman’s too). They are our trusting companions and guardians, providing us company and keeping us safe. In fact, the news recently reported a Saugus woman is praising her dog for helping her fight off an attacker during her early October run. So, yes, woman’s best friend!

But, dogs are members of the canine family and with that come animal instincts. Sometimes a dog can become aggressive and attack another dog.

In that situation his or her owner may be strictly liable for the dog’s actions.  Mass. Gen. Law ch. 140, § 155. The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently discussed how much in damages a dog’s owner may be strictly liable for, for property damage caused by his or her dog – including injury to another dog or animal. Irwin v. Degtiarov, et al, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 234 (2014).

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There are three main points to consider when it comes to dog bites in Massachusetts: 1) Dog Bites are a strict liability offense in Massachusetts; 2) Strict Liability does not apply if you were “teasing, tormenting or abusing” the dog or if you were trespassing; and 3) There is a presumption that a child under seven is not teasing or tormenting or abusing the dog when he or she is bit.[1]

Strict liability arises when someone is deemed to be legally responsible for loss or injury to another, regardless of fault.

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