Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 140, section 155, states in relevant part, that “[i]f any dog shall do damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper….shall be liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing such dog.” Section 155 of Chapter 140 is known as the Massachusetts “Dog Bite Statute”. That nickname, however, is somewhat of a misnomer. In fact, a dog owner may be strictly liable for any injury caused by his or her dog.
Kushner& Marano recently settled a case where an unleashed dog caused significant damage to a client’s leg by running full speed into the side of his knee. By virtue of the “Dog Bite Statute”, the owner was strictly liable for the resulting damages.
“Strict liability means that the owner (or keeper) of a dog “is liable for injury resulting from an act of the dog without proof that its owner or keeper was negligent or otherwise at fault, or knew, or had reason to know, that the dog had any extraordinary, dangerous propensity, and even without proof that the dog in fact had any such propensity.” Rossi v. Delduca, 344 Mass. 66, (Mass. 1962) Citing, Leone v. Falco, 292 Mass. 299, 300, 198 N.E. 273, 274.
Fortunately, most homeowner’s insurance policies provide liability coverage for injuries caused by an owner’s dog. In other words, if you are injured by someone else’s dog, you may be entitled to recovery for your damages from that dog owner’s home owner’s insurance policy. However, dealing with insurance companies in such situations is not simple. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney and retain proper representation in order to obtain maximum results.