Who is at fault when a dog turns violent against a person?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Uncategorized

Thousands of households in Massachusetts have dogs, and many of them have more than one canine companion. Dogs are popular pets that people include in their families for reasons ranging from security and emotional support to income and exercise.

Most dogs are a benefit to the families that care for them, but some dogs cause more harm than good. A dog that turns vicious and attacks a person could cause disfiguring wounds, permanent injuries or even death in extreme cases.

Who is ultimately responsible for the injuries in property damage that a dog causes during a violent interaction with the human?

Massachusetts has strict liability rules for dog owners

Adding an animal to your household is a known risk. Even well-trained, beloved pets can become aggressive and hurt a person. Under Massachusetts law, the owner of an animal is the one ultimately responsible for any property damage or injuries the animal causes.

There are only two scenarios in which the owner won’t be responsible for an animal attacking a person. The first is when the individual was in the process of causing harm or breaking the law. A dog that attacks someone who broke into a home or who assaulted their owner likely won’t cause financial liability for their owner.

If someone taunts, teases or abuses the dog, leading to it biting them, their mistreatment of the animal will also diminish or eliminate the owner’s liability for the animal’s actions. If the person attacked by the dog is under the age of seven, there is a rebuttable assumption that they were neither engaged in misconduct nor the mistreatment of the animal at the time of the attack. 

Who compensates a victim for a vicious dog’s bite?

Many times, people get bitten by animals that belong to people they know, such as family members or neighbors. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need to file a civil lawsuit against a dog’s owner after a vicious animal attack.

Homeowner’s insurance and even renter’s insurance can reimburse someone for medical expenses and property damage losses suffered because of an aggressive animal. If someone doesn’t have insurance or if the losses a dog causes actually exceed the amount of insurance available, then a civil lawsuit may be the only option for the people recovering from that attack.

Responding properly to a dog bite attack can minimize the lasting losses you suffer because of a vicious animal.