YES: MASSACHUSETTS DOG OWNERS ARE LIABLE FOR INJURIES
You’re running through the woods on your favorite running trail. The weather is nice, you’re enjoying the fresh air, and you’re feeling good. Then you hear “Bandit, get back here!!” Hoping the inevitable off-leash dog is not actually chasing you, you glance back, only to see the medium-sized Bandit bounding after you, audibly panting, tongue out. You stop running and stand still, crossing your fingers that this will be like your many other dog encounters where the dog merely gets a few licks in or maybe a jump or two before the owner rushes over to say the dog is not dangerous, just friendly. Unfortunately, Bandit sinks his teeth into your calf. As you grab your leg in pain, the dog owner arrives, exclaims, “Bandit has never bit anyone, he’s such a nice dog. He just wanted to run with you.” Now, instead of running home, showering, and heading to work, you spend the remainder of your day receiving medical treatment. Twenty stitches, a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and crutches – you’re ordeal is just beginning. Your job requires you to stand, so you can’t go until you’re better, you certainly can’t run, and you now have a fear of running where off-leash dogs run loose. You’re thinking, “Wow, that turned out to be a pretty bad run. What can I do about it?”
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140 Section 155 provides that:
"If any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or if the owner or keeper be a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, is under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action."
In short, dog owners are liable for their dog’s actions and the subsequent damages these actions cause.
Envision a slightly different scenario: instead of suffering a bite from Bandit, you instead see Bandit chasing you, trip on a root, break your wrist, slice your knee open, and bang your head. You’re still injured, but Bandit never even touched you. Bandit’s owner may still be responsible for his actions and the damages they caused.
Moreover, if Bandit had been enjoying a walk in the woods with his dog walker from the local dog-walking company, the dog-walking company could be held liable as a “keeper” of the dog.
How can the Law Office of Thomas R. Davis help you?
As a lifelong runner I understand the dynamics involved in how a dog bite or related injury can occur as well as the consequences of such an injury. Although this law may seem straightforward, it is often vital to consult with an attorney to get the damages you deserve.
Call us any time at (617) 431-3887 for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. We are here to provide you with the quality representation you deserve.