It is estimated that approximately 85 million households (approximately 68%) in the United States own a pet. There has been a 12% increase in pet ownership among households in the past 20 years. Dogs are by far one of the most popular pets.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, some dogs can be aggressive. The increase in dog ownership has lead to an increase in dog bites and other injuries. There have been recent reports in the news of dog attacks in Massachusetts that resulted in substantial injuries and even death.
Injuries from dog bites are more common than you might expect. Approximately 4.5 million dog bites are reported each year. Homeowner insurance companies paid approximately $675 million in liability claims related to dog-related injuries in 2018.
Injuries resulting from a dog bite are also more substantial than you might expect. Nearly 1 in 5 dog bites becomes infected. In 2018, 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by a dog. The average cost of a dog bite related hospital stay was $18,200.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 155, governs the liability for damage from a dog. That statute dictates that the “owner or keeper” of the dog is liable if: (1) the dog causes personal injury or property damage; and (2) the injured person was not trespassing or provoking the dog. If a dog attacks a child under the age of 7, there is a presumption that the child was not trespassing or provoking the dog. The law also applies any other to any other non-bite injury that a dog might cause.
Dog owners are held liable for the injuries that their dogs cause regardless of whether the owner had prior knowledge that the dog was aggressive. Dog owners are normally covered by their homeowners’ insurance policy for dog bite incidents. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically policy limits between $100,000 to $300,000. If the claim exceeds the policy limit, the dog owner becomes responsible for all damages above that amount.
Persons injured in an unprovoked dog attack should seek compensation for medical expenses and other related expenses from the dog’s owner and/or their insurance company. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury from a dog, you should contact an experienced lawyer. M. Koes Law, LLC has experience handling dog injury cases and offers a free initial consultation. We only charge you legal fees if we win your case, and only after we win.