Dog Bite Injuries

Though we like to think of our pets as harmless, lovable members of the family, dog bite injuries and accidents can happen to anyone.

The most common breeds known to be aggressive are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers, but dogs that are provoked, abused, or trained to be protective and aggressive can also cause injuries.

Liability
Massachusetts law says the owner is liable for all dog-related injuries as long as the victim can prove the extent of his or her injuries, that they were not trespassing, teasing or tormenting the dog, and that the defendant really is the owner of the dog. A judge will usually decide that children under seven years old who are victims of dog bites did not provoke the dog. If the dog owner is a minor under the age of 18, the parents are liable. You may still be able to file a claim if the dog caused an accident, such as a fall while walking or biking, even if the dog did not touch you.

Insurance
According to MSPCA-Angell, It is estimated that 4.7-million dog bite injures happen in the United States each year, with 800,000 requiring medical treatment. The average claim cost is $12,000. Most dog owners who also own a home have homeowner’s insurance that will cover the cost of dog bite injuries. However, there may be exclusions in the insurance policy for dogs and other animals, especially for aggressive breeds deemed “high-risk.” If you are the dog owner, you will be expected to pay for the cost of medical expenses, pain and suffering, scarring damage, lost income, and sometimes the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Read more about insurance for dog owners on the MSPCA-Angell website

Prevention
>Dog owners can take certain steps to help prevent injuries. Most importantly, know your dog’s personality and behavior, and avoid situations where you are not sure how your pet will respond. Keep your dog on a leash when out in public areas. Keep up with any vaccinations, especially for rabies. Train and socialize your dog with other people, children, and animals early on.

Read additional information about dog bite claims in the United States