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Massachusetts Law Regarding Dog Bites

Dog bites are terrifying when they happen. They are painful and may become a major medical problem for the person bitten. If the bite is serious enough, it may require stitches. Infection is also a problem in this case. Massachusetts law, Part I, Title XX, Chapter 140, Section 155 is specifically written to deal with this personal injury matter.

Is The Dog Owner Always Liable?

Dog bites happen for different reasons and the law takes this into account. If a person is committing trespass or teasing the dog, then the law recognizes this as provocation of the animal. The dog owner will not necessarily be held liable if provocation is a factor. If there is no proven provocation, the responsibility is with the dog owner for the actions of their dog.

Types Of Injury

Injury under Massachusetts law is not always an actual bite on a person by a dog. The same section mentioned above covers injury to property. Property injury has the same liability proofs as a dog bite. Types of property injuries might be clothing ripped by the animal or damage to a vehicle or bicycle.

Burden Of Proof

In general, the burden to prove the dog was acting within the law is on the defendant in the case. The defendant’s task is proving the dog was not provoked in any legal definition and acted without cause. There must also be proof of injury to either a person’s body or property.

Under the law, there are justifications for injuries from a dog bite. If a dog has injured you, consult an attorney to find out if you have a personal injury claim.


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