Man’s Best Friend?!


The Good Stuff

When I was a kid, I never had a dog.   Later in life my young daughters, Sarah and Emily, approached me on Father’s Day about our getting a family dog.  Well, their strategy of approaching me on Father’s Day worked and Coco soon joined our family.  Coco (also known as “Coconut”) was a Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a full-sized Poodle.  She was the best.   She was fun, chill and smart and we enjoyed her companionship for 15 ½ wonderful years.

Dog Ownership

There are almost 77 million dogs in the United States.  With dog ownership comes great joy and companionship.  But dog ownership also comes with legal responsibility.  In Massachusetts and New Hampshire dog owners are “strictly liable” for the actions of their dogs.  What does that mean?  It means that the victim of a dog attack does not even have to prove that the dog owner was negligent for the owner to be liable.  Generally, owning a dog which harms another person results in owner liability – unless the victim was taunting the dog.   Being “liable” under our legal system means that the owner must compensate the victim for the fair value of his injuries.  That can be a lot of money.  So, it is very important that any dog owner confirms that his homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance provides coverage in the unfortunate event that his pet causes injury to another.  Not all insurance plans do, so you should specifically ask your insurance agent if you have this coverage. 

So, what should any owner of a dog do to protect himself?  Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Ensure that your dog is licensed;
  2. Ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date;
  3. Try to keep your dog on-leash;
  4. Ensure that you have good homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage for dog-related liability.

 Victims of Dog Aggression

Interestingly, a dog does not even have to touch a person for that victim to have a personal injury claim.  While the vast majority of dog attacks do involve bites (which often result in scarring) a dog owner is still liable if his dog while off-leash “rushes” a person and that person falls to the ground and injures himself.  Further, if a dog jumps up on a person and knocks them to the ground, without any bite involved, the owner is again responsible.  However, when these incidents occur, such an attack is generally physically and emotionally disturbing.

What should a victim do if attacked by a dog? Below are the recommended actions following a dog attack:

  1. Call the police to the scene in order to document the incident, and collect the name and address of the dog owner and dog;
  2. Seek immediate medical care;
  3. Report the matter to the local animal control officer;
  4. Contact an attorney who will first confirm whether the dog owner has insurance coverage for the incident, and if so, obtain for you the compensation you deserve.

Attorney Charlie Perrault and Perrault Blair Law Group offer extensive experience in representing the victims of dog related incidents and attacks.  We are available 24/7 to answer any questions and help with your personal injury needs. Call us today at 978.975.4100 to schedule your free consultation.

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