Who Let the Dogs Out: Massachusetts Dog Owner Liability and Dog Bite Injury Laws
Injuries from Dog Bites are Common and Often Serious
Every year, approximately 4.7 million Americans are victims of a dog bite attack.  About 60% of all dog bite victims are children and 77% of all dog bite injuries to children under 10 tend to be facial.  Around 12 individuals die from dog bite incidents annually.  In 2019, 14 year old Ryan Hazel from Dighton, Massachusetts, was tragically killed on May 9, 2019 after being attacked by a number of dogs, and in April 2019, a Taunton woman and her dog were attacked by six pitbulls—resulting in severe injuries to the woman and the death of the woman’s dog.  In 2012, dog bites accounted for about one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims with a total cost of $489 million.  So what should the public be aware of—both as dog owners and as individuals who may simply come into contact with a dog—regarding Massachusetts Dog Owner Liability and Dog Bite Injury Laws?  We have outlined below a brief synopsis of what you should be informed and provide answers to some frequently asked questions:
Massachusetts Law on Dog Bites
Massachusetts has its own statute covering dog bites, M.G.L. c. 140, Section 155.  This statute states “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 […]