Dogs are frequently referred to as “man’s best friend.” Dogs provide many people with companionship and protection in our daily lives. However, even a well-trained dog can lash out and injure someone by biting or attacking them.
Larger and powerful breeds such as pit bulls or Rottweilers can inflict serious or even fatal injuries. Even a smaller dog that attacks someone can cause injuries that requires medical attention. A dog may attack a small child whose vulnerable head and neck are within a dog’s reach. Serious dog attacks can leave survivors of any age with physical injuries and deep, long-lasting emotional distress.
If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite or dog attack, contact a Brockton dog bite attorney at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. We are prepared to provide you with the personalized, one-on-one attention and skilled representation you need during this challenging time.
Learn how our firm can help you and your family secure the full financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. Contact us today to set up a free case review.
Criminal Suit vs. Civil Suit for Dog Bites
Unfortunately for victims of dog attacks, criminal charges are often not filed against dog owners. For example, in once recent year, 31 fatal attacks occurred but only nine owners were charged with a crime. Dog owners usually face only a fine after a dog attack. In some cases, owners are not even required to euthanize the dog.
When you are bitten or attacked by a dog, the dog’s owner may be criminally charged for the attack. However, that criminal charge does not mean you will get financial restitution for your losses.
To recover for financial and emotional losses, you must file a civil lawsuit. Civil lawsuits allow you to recover for specific expenses, such as your medical bills. You can also seek “general” damages for the losses that do not carry a specific price, such emotional distress or loss of consortium (companionship).
Even if a dog owner is never charged with a crime or is acquitted on charges, you may still be able to pursue compensation in a civil case. The matters are completely separate, and civil court carries a lower burden of proof.
Damages in Your Dog Bite Case
If you are bitten by someone else’s dog, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the damages you incur as a result of your injuries. Damages that may be available in dog bite cases include:
- Past, ongoing, and future medical expenses, including ER and hospital bills, doctors’ office visits, surgeries or other medical procedures, pain medication and physical or occupational therapy
- Lost wages or income from the time you miss from your job or business while recovering from the injury
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries keep you from returning to the same kind of work you did prior to the dog bite
- Lost quality of life, due to physical disabilities or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering brought about by your injuries
- Emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder or cynophobia (fear of dogs)
- Loss of consortium, which is compensation for your spouse for the loss of your companionship and society due to your injuries
Under Massachusetts law, if the police or a judge has previously ordered a dog owner to keep a dog restrained, but the dog gets out and attacks another person, the dog owner becomes liable for treble damages. This means a court can triple the amount of damages the dog bite victim receives.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite?
In Massachusetts, a person injured by a dog bite or attack may seek compensation from the dog owner for any injuries and damages. However, many dog bites or attacks are committed by a dog that the victim knows. For instance, the dog may belong to a family member, friend or neighbor of the victim. When you are bitten or attacked by a dog you know, you might be reluctant to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner.
We understand that you may not want to jeopardize your personal relationship with the dog’s owner. However, you should remember that dog bite claims are often covered by a dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. That means your damages will not be paid directly by your family member, friend or neighbor. Instead, the damages will be paid for by the insurance policy that was purchased to protect the homeowner when someone is injured on their property.
What You Need to Know About Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws
Massachusetts has a statewide leash law that prohibits owners from letting their dogs roam off leash while in public. Many cities and towns in Massachusetts also have laws and ordinances that ban dog owners from allowing their dogs to run free in public, except in designated dog parks.
Dogs may usually run free on private property with the permission of the property owner and only if the dog is kept in a fenced-in part of the property. Some municipalities may require property owners to post warning signs alerting the public that a dog resides on the property.
Several cities in Massachusetts now have regulations that require all pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs, including mixes, bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers, to wear muzzles when the dogs are out in public. The municipalities with those regulations include Malden, Boston, Everett and Worchester.
Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Massachusetts
If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog bite or dog attack in Brockton, you have three years from the date of your injury in which to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. If you fail to file your lawsuit within three years, the court can dismiss your case. When that happens, you permanently lose your right to pursue compensation in court.
Types of Dog Bite Cases We Handle
Almost any breed of dog can attack or bite an unsuspecting victim. Examples of some breeds most commonly involved in dog bite cases include:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Bully
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Bulldog
- American Akita and Japanese Akita
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
No matter what breed of dog has been bitten or attacked you, a Brockton dog bite lawyer at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries.
How Our Brockton Dog Bite Attorney Can Help You
Pursuing compensation for the dog bite injuries you or a loved one have suffered can prove incredibly difficult. That is especially true when the offending dog is owned by a family member, friend or neighbor. At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, our Brockton dog bite attorney can help you through the process of pursuing a claim for compensation by:
- Reviewing evidence in your case, including accident scene and injury photos, medical treatment records, eyewitness statements, police reports (including reports of prior attacks by the same dog), and surveillance footage (if available)
- Helping you get treatment for your injuries and insurance coverage for your treatment costs
- Identifying the dog’s owner and potential sources of compensation, including a homeowners or renters insurance policy
- Consulting with medical, vocational and financial experts as necessary to determine the extent of your damages
- Filing a claim for compensation on your behalf and aggressively negotiating with the insurance companies for a fair settlement
- Preparing to take your case to court if we cannot settle for the compensation you deserve
- Advocating on your behalf at trial, if necessary
Schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Brockton. At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. Learn more about your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
Let our firm fight to get you and your family the compensation and justice you deserve. That will allow you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Reach out to us today by phone or online.