Dogs can be great companions and wonderful family members.  They also require a significant amount of care.  It is important for dog owners to know that they can be held responsible for the actions of their dogs.  Additionally, if you are injured by a dog, it is important to know that you may be able to hold the dog’s owner or keeper liable for your injuries.

In Massachusetts, dog owners are responsible for personal injuries or property damage caused by their dogs. Even if the dog is on a leash, even if the dog doesn’t bite, Massachusetts Law imposes strict liability when it comes to injuries or other damage caused by dogs.  Mass. Laws. chapter 140 § 155 covers dog liability and states that if any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of a person, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be held liable for such damage.  It does not matter if it is the first time that the dog has bitten or acted aggressively.

This means that:

any dog is included under this law, from golden retriever puppies to Chihuahuas, Labradoodles, Beagles, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pitbulls.

any damage is covered under this law, from bodily injury from bites and scratches to broken bones from falls caused by the dog charging or running towards a person, even if the dog doesn’t make physical contact.

Massachusetts is one of several states that recognizes a strict liability policy when it comes to damages caused by dogs. However, this rule has several exceptions.  For example, trespassers are not protected by this statute.  Additionally, strict liability does not apply where the person who was injured provoked an attack by teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog.

The Murphy Law Group has experience dealing with Massachusetts’ laws on dog bites and attacked.  If you are making a claim against a dog owner, or if someone is making a claim against you based on the alleged actions of your dog, give us a call at (978) 686-3200.

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