Owning a dog or agreeing to watch over someone else’s dog, even just momentarily, is a great responsibility that can come with great consequences. Dogs of all breeds have a long well established history of biting people, other animals, or causing damage to property. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has enacted specific laws concerning dogs; wherein the owner or keeper (or parent/guardian if it is a minor) shall be strictly liable if a dog causes bodily injury or property damage to another. In some situations, the dog does not even have to have had any physical contact with a person or property. The owner or keeper will not be liable if the victim was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog. If the victim is under age 7 it is presumed they did not cause the loss and the burden of proof to show a child under age 7 was teasing, tormenting, or trespassing is upon the owner or keeper of the dog.
These above conditions are very specific legal issues and if you have suffered from bodily injury or have had property damaged because of a dog, having experienced lawyers, such as Ford, Quinn, & Desmarais, LLC is essential. Many times when a loss involving a dog occurs, it happens when the dog is loose. A dog will quickly disappear after a loss and identifying the owner or keeper is paramount to receive compensation for your damages. There is much one can learn by conducting a thorough investigation involving research at the city or town hall to identify licensed dogs in the area, contacting the police or animal control officers, canvassing the area to speak with residents where the loss occurred, speaking to local veterinarians, inspecting court records, and visiting area dog parks.
Anyone can file a complaint with a city or town alleging that a dog is a nuisance or dangerous and the officials are required to investigate. If the hearing authority finds that a dog is a nuisance or dangerous, the municipality can issue several orders to the owner or keeper in effort to maintain public safety.
If a hearing authority or a district court has deemed a dog to be a dangerous dog and such dog wounds a person or worries, wounds or kills any livestock or fowl, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable in tort to the person injured by the dog for 3 times the amount of damages sustained by such person.