Dog bites are particularly traumatic because during the bite the dog is out of control. Often the dog can leave a scar on the leg or other part of the body when it bites. It is particularly serious where the dog bites and scars the face of an individual.
Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140 §155 provides for strict liability for dog attacks. Strict liability means that liability is imposed without any showing of wrongdoing on the part of the dog owner. This means that a dog’s owner is responsible for the dog biting a person. You do not have to the show any negligence on the part of the dog owner. Although this may seem harsh, it is designed to ensure that any injured party is compensated and at the same time a dog owner does his or her absolute best to protect others. This would include leashing and muzzling the dog.
Liability can also possibly be imposed against a landlord or often some other party who knew or reasonably should have known of a dangerous and or a vicious dog. It is the law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that it is negligent for a landlord to permit his tenants to keep dangerous pets on leased premises. Brown v. Bolduc, 29 Mass. App. Ct. 909 (1990); Andrews v. Jordan Marsh Co., 283 Mass. 158 (1933). In Brown, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recognized that a landowner, with respect to the keeping of dogs, had a duty of care within the meaning of Mounsey v. Ellard, 363 Mass. 693, 706-707 (1973). Unlike the strict liability situation in this type of case the injured party must show knowledge of the propensities of the dog. See. Uccello v. Laudenslayer, 44 Cal. App. 3d 504, 118 Cal. R. 741, 81 A.L.R. 3rd 628 (1975).
In Uccello, the plaintiff, who was injured when she was attacked by a German Shepherd dog, brought suit against the defendant landlord. In reversing a judgment in the trial court, the appellate court in that state concluded that where a landlord has knowledge, constructive or otherwise, of the vicious propensity of a neighbor's dog on premises he or she leased to the dog owner, the imposition of liability is appropriate. Knowledge is most often be shown by circumstantial evidence.
Call Attorney Erickson to discuss your dog bite case at (978) 793-9212.