An Atlanta, Georgia man has been arrested after his two pit bulls fatally attacked a 6 year old boy and critically injured a 5 year old girl, as they walked to school Tuesday morning. The owner of the dogs, Cameron Tucker, has been charged with two counts of Reckless Conduct. Georgia is a “negligence” state relating to dog bites and attacks and their dog bite law says the owner of a “vicious or dangerous” animal can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog through careless management or by allowing the dog off leash. Dog Bite Laws vary from state to state ranging from a “One Bite” Rule to “Strict Liability”.
Can a Dog Owner Be Sued for a Dog Bite in Massachusetts?
In short, yes. When it comes to dog bites, Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state. The Dog Bite Law in Massachusetts says that dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their dogs even if they had no prior knowledge that the dog might act aggressively. If the dog causes personal injury or property damage and the injured person was not trespassing or provoking the dog, the “owner or keeper” of the dog is liable. So, if you’ve been bitten or injured by a dog in Massachusetts, you do not need to show fault on the part of the owner. This not only applies to dog bites, but also to any type of injury, personal or property, the dog may have caused. This can include a dog running and knocking a person to the ground, resulting in injuries. Each state is different, but a dog bite injury case in a “strict liability” state is much easier to prove and receive compensation for and is more likely to quickly settle.
The Massachusetts Dog Bite Law does not apply if the injured victim was trespassing on private property at the time of injury or if the person was injured while “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog. Behaviors like this are likely to provoke a dog attack. In these cases, the dog’s owner may not be held liable for the injuries. Children under the age of 7, however, are not presumed to be trespassers or abusers or tormenters and the burden of proof is on the defendant in such a case.
Dog Bite Law in Rhode Island- “Strict Liability” vs. “One Bite” Rule
Rhode Island also follows the “Strict Liability” Rule– only however, when it comes to dog bites or dog related injuries off the dog owner’s property. If the incident occurs on the dog owner’s property, the “One Bite” Rule goes into effect. The “One Bite” Rule does not mean a dog is allowed “one free bite” without getting their owner into trouble. Rather the “One Bite” Rule states that a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury only if the owner knew, or had reason to know, that their dog may act with aggression. If a dog has a prior history of biting or aggression, this is reason to believe it could happen again. The victim must prove that the dog owner had knowledge that their animal has behaved in the past, or is likely to behave, aggressively. The “One Bite” Rule is the only way to pursue a dog bite claim in Rhode Island that occurred on the dog owner’s property.
Statute of Limitations to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit
In Massachusetts, the Statute of Limitations for a personal injury lawsuit, such as a dog bite, is three years after the date of injury. The deadline is the same in Rhode Island. Dog bites can result in minor injuries like abrasions or bruising. Other dog bites or dog related injuries can result in death or serious long-term damage or dis-figuration, with lifelong effects, both physically and mentally. The injuries can affect mobility that cause a change in lifestyle, limit work ability, and cause other challenges down the road. Post-traumatic stress may affect some after a dog attack. A child may receive a dog bite as a young kid that leaves a scar which may not bother them. But as they go into their teenage years and are more image conscious, the effects of the past may now bother them and cause them stress.
If you or your child is the victim of a dog bite, do not delay receiving medical attention and contact a Dog Bite Attorney in Massachusetts. You need to be compensated for your medical care, psychological help for trauma and stress, surgeries if needed, and future necessary or desired surgery to fix scars or other injuries. Tapalian Law is experienced with dog bite injury cases and will assess your case for free. There are time limits on your personal injury case and you can’t afford to wait. Call us at 401-552-5000 or contact us online.