As many in Massachusetts can attest, dogs can bring lasting company and joy to the lives of their owners. However, dog owners must never underestimate the possible dangerous propensities of their pets, including the possibility of dog bites. For if a dog were to attack another individual, it could result in severe injuries for the victim and serious consequences for the dog and the dog’s owner.
A 6-year-old pointer-hound mix was euthanized after attacking a 6-year-old Massachusetts boy. The attack occurred while the dog owner’s teenage daughter was babysitting the victim. The dog bit the boy on the face, causing an injury that required over 400 stitches to repair. In addition to the physical injury, the boy has also suffered severe emotional trauma as a result of the attack, saying that he is now “ugly.”
When a person is bitten by a dog, they may be able to sue the dog’s owner in a court of law. There are two theories the lawsuit could be brought under. Some states follow the theory of strict liability. Under strict liability, the dog’s owner is liable for dog bites, even if that owner took steps to avoid attacks, such as posting signs or chaining the dog. Even if the owner had no reason to believe their dog was dangerous, they could still be held liable.
However, in other states a dog owner is liable for attacks only if they know or should have known that their dog had dangerous propensities. It is not always easy to determine what constitutes a dangerous propensities. Some factors the court will consider are the dog’s size, breed, whether the dog was kept for protective purposes and whether the dog has bitten someone in the past. If the owner put up “beware of dog” signs or told someone the dog may attack, that could also be used to show the owner knew the pet had dangerous propensities.
Victims of pet bites could receive compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. This compensation could be vital in allowing the victim to recover, physically and emotionally from a serious animal attack.
Source: boston.com, “Dog that attacked Mansfield boy ordered put down,” Feb. 28, 2013