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Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are laws governing dog owners. These laws encompass all aspects involving owning and domesticating canines. The Massachusetts Dog Bite Law indicates that the Commonwealth is a “strict liability” dog bite state. The legal guidelines provided by the state will determine the direction and heavily weigh on the outcome of such cases. Every pet owner should familiarize themselves with the pertinent state laws within their area. If you are a dog’s owner in Massachusetts, your civic duty is to know all relevant Massachusetts dog bite laws. 

In case of a dog attack that results in dog bites and other canine-related injuries, both the dog’s owner and the injured person must understand the Massachusetts dog bite statute in depth.

Dog bite victims should recruit the help of a personal injury lawyer familiar with the Massachusetts dog bite law to launch a dog bite injury claim against dog owners. Dog bite claims are settled in court to help foot medical bills for any injuries caused by a bite or any other injury.

Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute

According to the Massachusetts General Laws > Part I > Title XX > Chapter 140 > Section 155, dog bite claims that arise from incidents where there are damages cast upon either the body or property of a person or persons, strict liability shall befall the dog’s owner or keeper.

Under Massachusetts law, dog owners shall take full legal responsibility for personal injury and property damage caused by dogs under their ownership. The dog owner or keeper shall be held strictly liable for such damage and pay all necessary penalties incurred by such dog-caused incidents.

Massachusetts laws require that if a dog’s owner or keeper is a minor, the parent or legal guardian shall absorb the strict liability cast upon such minor in a dog bite lawsuit.

Dog Bites

Statistically, over 4.5 million Americans suffer from injuries caused by dog bites annually.

Every year, many insurance companies claim that the collective payout for bites and other injuries requiring medical attention involving dogs adds up to six hundred million dollars.

A wise dog owner knows to affiliate with an insurance company that offers dog bite liability coverage, encompassing legal expenses and medical fees.

Dog Injuries

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, over eight hundred thousand Americans seek medical attention for a personal injury sustained in a dog attack. Reports indicate that at least 51% of victims are children and those aged 5-9 years old are the most susceptible to dog bites.

An injured person must immediately take the necessary steps in nursing dog-related injuries, such as adequately disinfecting the wound and getting the essential anti-rabies shots.

The injured person must also report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as an animal control officer, as soon as possible.

Animal Control

When an unprovoked dog injures a person in areas open to the public, the injured party may obtain compensation from the dog’s owner. The dog will then face necessary assessments to either rule out or prove a history of aggression.

Suppose there is sufficient evidence proving the dog’s history of aggressive behavior. In that case, the dog in question may be deemed dangerous. A dangerous dog can legally be subjected to euthanization by a veterinarian in good standing.

Injuries Resulting From Unjust Provocation

Below are those injured by dogs who are not entitled to any just compensation. In cases where a person is:

  • proven to be teasingtormenting, or abusing the dog
  • proven to be committing a trespass or other tort (or civil wrong) infringing upon another’s private property
In Retaliation

Should the personal injury occur when a canine is proven to be retaliating against abusive behavior, including:

  1. Teasing
  2. Tormenting

Whether these occurrences transpired on public or private grounds, the owner may not face strict liability.

The burden of proof befalls the pet owner in question to prove that the dog bit the injured person in self-defense for either itself or its owner.

The owner may also prove that their canine does not have a history of aggressive behavior.

Against Trespassers

Below are instances where dogs can be proven to be acting in defense against those committing illegal acts.

  1. When canines attack those carrying out illegal acts against the landowner are within their owner’s private property 
  2. When trained attack dogs are released by a security system or other automated technology that is integrated into the dog’s enclosure by home security to necessarily secure the property

Dogs in these cases are deemed not to be acting grossly disproportionate against those with ill intentions. As such, their owners may not be charged for damages sustained by people unlawfully present on a landowner’s property.


When those committing the acts above are under the age of seven or possess specific mental and physical disabilities, they will not be seen as abusing the dog, trespassing, or carrying out any other tort against the landowner.

However, if a dog bite case was launched against such a minor, the burden of proof shall befall their parent or legal guardian acting as the defendant.

Dog Bite Claims

Under Massachusetts dog bite laws, if damages caused by the canine were unprovoked or in public, the victim would not have to prove the owner’s negligence. They will only have to prove that the person was the owner or responsible for the animal when the injury caused to the body or property damage occurred.

The owner is legally responsible for providing financial compensation the victim is due. In this event, the client may recruit the help of an insurance company.

Insurance Claims Involving Dog Bites

The guilty party’s insurer can help foot medical fees for bites and any other injury cast upon the victim. They may also help cover compensation for lost wages or damages on the victim’s property.

The party responsible for the animal that caused injuries and damages will most likely have to refer to their homeowners’ insurance company.

Your future premiums may increase in light of the claims made against you. You can prevent these increases by protecting yourself against undue claims.

Legal Course of Action Involving Dog Bites

An owner involved in dog bite cases must recruit the help of an attorney. A lawyer can help a client comprehend liabilities they may face in a dog bite claim and protect them against any demands made outside of legal responsibilities.

To find a law firm familiar with the relevant state laws and has extensive experience in personal injury and dog bites nearest you, conduct a simple zip code search.

Reach out to the Kiley Law Group if you are from Massachusetts. Find out more about the group below.

The Kiley Law Group

If another party’s negligence has caused you any bodily harm, they should be held accountable for their actions. Whether they are an individual or an entire company that had a hand in causing your injuries, they should lend a hand in your recovery as well.

The Kiley Law Group offers clients free consultations that include a free evaluation of individual suits. We specialize in personal injury cases and successfully apply our knowledge of the relevant Massachusetts General Laws into each case we have won for our clients. Visit The Kiley Law Group website to find out how we could be of service to you.

You may reach the firm by texting or calling 888.435.1321.