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Dog bites cause much more than physical damage. Who is liable?

Has a dog attacked you or your child? The financial, physical and psychological consequences can be devastating. While many victims of dog bites in Massachusetts accept insurance settlement offers, coverage that is more comprehensive might be available through the civil court. In Massachusetts, a strict liability law exists, which means the dog owner is liable even if he or she claims not to have known that the dog was dangerous.

The role of provocation in these cases

Even in a strict liability state, the presence of provocation can play a significant role in the lawsuit. Provocation occurs in instances where a dog was provoked or antagonized into harming an individual. The dog owner may use it as a defense.

The court will often attempt to look at the viewpoints of the victim and the dog to determine if there was provocation involved in the incident. Based on the court's determination, this could result in reduced liability of the dog owner or a victim's claim being barred altogether. In cases where the victim of a dog attack was a young child, the court might rule that he or she was too young to have the necessary knowledge of the possible consequences of provocation.

Potential life-altering consequences of a dog attack

The consequences of a dog attack will depend on the severity of the bite. The first thing to do after such an attack is to seek medical treatment. The next step would be to identify the dog's owner and the status of the animal's rabies vaccinations. Dog bites have a high risk of infection, and they may even require intravenous antibiotics. Blood tests to determine the presence of tetanus will be necessary, and the wound may need stitching. Follow-up visits to the doctor to monitor the infection might be required.

In the worst-case scenario, the dog bite might have been on the face of you or your child. This may lead to the need for plastic surgery, skin grafts and long-term medical treatment. Along with the psychological damage that a dog attack can cause, the economic consequences can result in severe financial instability due to overwhelming medical bills, rehabilitation costs and lost wages from any time you may have to take off from your work.

Help is available

With the legal complexities involved in many of these cases, the support and guidance of a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling dog bite cases could prove invaluable to your cause. Your knowledgeable attorney can work on establishing the necessary proof of negligence and assist with determining your future financial needs to ensure you have a comprehensive claim that will cover all past and future losses. Your attorney can then advocate on your behalf in court with the aim of obtaining the maximum recovery of damages.

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