It’s springtime in Boston – we and our neighbors are out enjoying the weather, along with our faithful canine friends. Although it’s always nice to say hello to a dog, animals can attack – often for no reason – and cause serious injuries. Breakstone, White & Gluck has successfully represented folks who sustained horrific injuries from dog attacks, including:
- $525,000 arbitration award for a woman who was permanently scarred from a Pitbull attack and suffered PTSD from her injuries and online bullying.
- $450,000 for a minor child who sustained severe facial injuries and scarring, as well as emotional and psychological distress, after being bitten by a German Shepherd/Chow-Chow mix.
- $300,000 for the estate of an elderly woman who was bitten on the ankle and developed an infection that went septic, eventually leading to her wrongful death.
- $300,000 for a cyclist who was injured when a dog attacked him.
- $200,000 jury verdict for a child who suffered an eye injury when clawed by a dog.
How often do people get hurt by dogs?
During the pandemic, insurers paid out at least 430 claims involving dog bite incidents in Massachusetts, reports the Newbury Port News:
The release of the data is required under a 2018 law beefing up the state's animal welfare requirements.
Ironically, family-friendly Labrador retrievers were involved in a majority of bite cases that involved a specific breed, or 52 reported claims.
They were followed by German shepherds, which were involved in 50 biting claims. Pit bulls were also among the top dogs listed last year, with 37 reported claims.
Rottweilers, often considered an aggressive breed by insurers, were only listed in four of the biting claims. Doberman pinschers were only involved in three.
The paper also noted that insurers “paid out more than $854 million in liability claims related to dog bites” in 2020, with the average cost per claim at about $50,425.
In addition to physical injuries, dog bites can also cause emotional trauma and long-term psychological effects. Victims may experience anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the attack. This can have a significant impact on their quality of life, as well as their ability to work and participate in daily activities.
What happens if I get bitten on someone else’s property?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a dog attack, it’s important that you understand your legal rights and options, and secure the compensation to which you’re entitled. This may involve pursuing a claim against the owner of the dog, or against a third party, such as a landlord or property owner who knew or should have known that a dangerous dog was on their premises.
One of the key elements in a dog bite case is establishing liability. Massachusetts is a "strict liability" state when it comes to dog bites, which means that the owner of a dog is liable for any injuries caused by the dog, regardless of whether or not the owner was negligent. This makes it easier for victims to pursue compensation, as they do not need to prove that the owner was at fault for the attack.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
- For example, if the victim was trespassing on the owner's property at the time of the attack, the owner may not be liable for their injuries.
- Similarly, if the victim was provoking or harassing the dog, they may not be entitled to compensation.
What if I’m bitten by a dog while I’m out for a walk?
The same strict liability rules apply whether you’re in a home or business or taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Owners are responsible for their pets’ behavior. If you were out for a walk or a bike ride, or even taking your own dog for a walk when you were attacked, you can still make a claim for compensation against the dog’s owner. You don’t even need to be bitten to make a claim; if a dog jumps at you (or on you) and scratches you, trips you while you’re walking or riding a bike, or chases you into a street or other dangerous scenario, and you sustain an injury, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation for your injuries and damages.
In many cases, the owner of the dog will have insurance that can be used to cover the victim's medical expenses and other damages. However, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out large settlements, and may try to minimize your injuries or dispute liability. This is where an experienced Boston personal injury attorney can be invaluable, as they can negotiate with the insurance company on behalf of the victim and fight to secure the compensation they deserve. And, in the event settlement attempts fail, our experienced lawyers will take your case to trial.
Steps to take if you’re attacked or bitten by a dog in Boston
Before you do anything else, do these two things:
- Contact your local police to ensure there’s a report about your attack, and
- Seek medical attention.
Dog bites can cause a range of injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries such as puncture wounds, broken bones, and disfigurement. In some cases, victims may require extensive medical treatment, including surgery, physical therapy, and psychological counseling. But you also want to get to a doctor quickly because dogs can carry and transmit rabies, a potentially deadly virus. The incubation period can last weeks or months, so you need medical advice on whether to start a vaccine regimen promptly so you don’t develop the disease.
Once you’ve seen a doctor and have filed your police report, then it is time to contact an attorney from Breakstone, White & Gluck. To help us build a strong case for your compensation, we will gather as much evidence as possible about the attack and your injuries. This may include photographs of the injuries, witness statements, medical records, and other documentation related to the attack. It is also important to document any expenses related to your medical treatment and other damages, such as lost wages or property damage.
Ultimately, our goal is to help victims of these attacks recover compensation for their injuries and to move forward with their lives. This will involve securing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible losses. It may also involve helping you access resources and support services to aid in your recovery, such as therapy, support groups, or vocational rehabilitation.
As Boston personal injury attorneys, we understand the unique challenges that victims of dog bites and attacks face and are committed to helping them navigate the legal system and secure the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or attack, please contact Breakstone, White & Gluck. Together, we can work to hold the responsible parties accountable and help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us today or complete our contact form to set up a free consultation.