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Dog Bite Lawyers and Springfield Dog Attack Injury Attorneys

Serving the Residents of Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, the Surrounding Communities, and throughout Massachusetts.

If you, a child, or a loved one was bit or attacked by a dog, call us to schedule a free consultation.  As dog bite lawyers we have the resources and experience needed to build a compelling case and seek the compensation you and your family deserve.

We represent clients on a contingency fee basis.  This means that if we do not reach a settlement or win your case at trial, you do not owe us a fee. Call today to get started with a free case evaluation.

Obtaining Compensation from Homeowner’s and Renter’s Insurance

In the United States, many dog bite injuries occur at the home of a relative, friend, or acquaintance of the victim or the victim’s family.  As a result, those injured and their families are often reluctant to sue for compensation.

It’s critical for dog bite victims and their families to understand that in many cases, a homeowner or apartment renter will have insurance that will cover liability for property damage, including dog bites.  As a result, when we accept a dog bite case, one of our first tasks will be to determine whether any insurance is in effect that would cover liability.  If this insurance exists, then we are often able to obtain compensation from the insurance company for full compensation – including pain and suffering – without the need to sue a friend, family member, or neighbor.

How Many Dog Bites Occur in the US Each Year?

Dog bites and animal attacks cause numerous deaths and disfiguring injuries each year.  According to a recent analysis, nearly five hundred people were killed by dog bites from 2005 – 2017.[1]  Further, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year.  Of these incidents, nearly 800,000 injured individuals will require medical treatment.2  Unfortunately, many of these attacks happen to vulnerable children, who often have a difficult time discerning whether an animal may be dangerous.

What Should I Do After Being Bitten by a Dog?

When a dog bites an individual, several steps can be taken to both help with long-term health and build a strong case for the most compensation possible:

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention.  First and foremost, addressing immediate medical needs is imperative.  Because dog bites can lead to serious complications, it can be vital to visit with a physician.  Even bites that seem harmless can lead to infections or other internal injuries if left untreated.
  • Document Everything Possible.  If you intend to file a compensation claim, it is critical to begin compiling as much evidence as possible from the start.  Generally, the more substantial the documentation, the easier it will be to assess the amount of money deserved.

At a minimum, victims should strive to collect the following documentation:

    • Photos of injuries and the location where the incident occurred
    • Dog owner contact information (including name, address, and phone number)
    • Witness contact information and a summary of their account of the accident
    • Medical bills
    • Wage statements (to show lost wages)
    • Dog bite reports
  • Contact a Knowledgeable Dog Bite Attorney.  Dog bite laws vary from state to state, and speaking with an attorney who has experience representing clients in Massachusetts dog bite claims may help increase your chances of securing a favorable determination.

What Types of Injuries Can Dogs Cause in Addition to Bites?

Large, aggressive dogs can inflict a lot of damage, but even medium or small dogs can cause substantial harm.  Even if not bitten, a victim can be chased, knocked down and suffer debilitating injuries.  In Massachusetts, owners can be liable for any damage caused in a dog attack, not just for bite injuries.  The following are a few common dog attack injuries that can occur:

  • Lacerations, abrasions, and puncture wounds
  • Facial scarring and disfigurement
  • Damage to skin, tissue, nerves, tendons, and bones
  • Severe infections
  • Diseases (such as rabies)
  • Traumatic head injuries (from being knocked to the ground)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Whether a dog will bite is not always conditioned on whether they are well-trained or not.  Even “good” dogs can bite if they sense a dangerous scenario.  The following are just a few triggers that can result in dog attacks:

  • Dogs bite in response to stressful situations.
  • They may feel scared or threatened.
  • They may believe they need to protect themselves, a puppy, or an owner.
  • They may feel unwell.
  • They may react to being startled.
  • Dogs often nip or bite during play, but they can bite harder when excited3

The breeds that bite the most frequently, include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Bulldog
  • Pit Bull
  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Bull Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Papillion

While many dog breeds have a propensity to bite, those that are most likely to cause severe injury and death are pit bulls and pit bull mixes, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Mastiffs.  In fact, between 2005 and 2017, pit bulls were responsible for approximately 254 deaths (or 65% of all dog-related deaths).

Does Massachusetts Have Dog Bite Laws?

Dog bite regulations are different in every state, but Massachusetts has some of the country’s toughest laws.  Under the Massachusetts dog bite statute,4 if a dog harms an individual, the owner of the animal is liable for any damage caused, regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten anyone or shown aggression.  However, if a person was trespassing on property or abusing and/or teasing a dog at the time of an attack, an owner can be absolved of responsibility, except in situations involving children under the age of seven.

In cases where young adolescents are injured, the child’s behavior towards a dog is not considered.  This means that even if they abuse or agitate the animal, the owner still has a responsibility to exercise control over the dog.  

My Friend’s Dog Bit Me.  Are There Any Alternate Ways that I Can Get Compensation?

Unfortunately, most bite accidents occur at homes of friends or loved ones, making it difficult to determine the best course of action for seeking compensation.  Keeping a friendship while seeking much-needed compensation can be a delicate balance.  In situations such as these, it is important to consider that homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies often help cover dog-bite liability.  Further, the coverage usually does not stop at a doorstep; rather, most policies will cover dog bites that occur off-premises.    

As a result, we are often able to secure compensation from an insurance claim, without any contentious litigation.  

How Much Can I Collect in a Dog Bite Case?

Dog bite claims can vary significantly; however, damages are usually comprised of the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical and care expenses
  • Lost income
  • Future lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages (if the attack was intentional or the owner set out to harm the victim)

As experienced dog bite attorneys, we are often asked about how much facial disfigurement claims are worth.  While there is no precise formula for calculating the value of a dog bite claim, several factors can influence the value of a claim that results in facial scarring, including:

  • What part of the face was injured?  A prominent and clearly visible scar can substantially affect a victim’s appearance for life; thus, these types of injuries typically will be worth more than those resulting in scars to less visible areas.
  • What does a scar look like?  The size and general appearance of an injury can impact the value of a claim.  For instance, a large red scar across a forehead will have more value than a barely noticeable mark under the chin.
  • Is surgery needed?  If a victim must undergo plastic or scar revision surgery, the procedure’s cost will likely increase damages.  It’s important to note that a victim is not only entitled to damages to cover future surgeries and related damages (such as lost wages), they are also entitled to recover for future pain and suffering.
  • How much does the victim value their personal appearance?  If a person’s appearance is critical to their identity or career, a claim may be worth more.  For example, if the victim is a model or news anchor, a change in their appearance could affect their ability to secure future work, increasing the losses they will sustain.
  • Is there photographic evidence of an injury?  Photographs are much more compelling than traditional medical notes.  Thus, it can be extremely vital to have photos of an injury at various stages of the healing process, including before, right after, and once the maximum healing point is reached.
  • How old is the victim?  Juries tend to be more sympathetic to children, teenagers, and young adults who have sustain significant facial scarring than to those who are decades older.  In all likelihood, this may be due to the “innocence” of children generally, as well as an appreciation of the likely obstacles that they may face in dating, securing a job, and other social activities.

As dog injury lawyers, we demand full compensation for our clients from those responsible.  If an acceptable settlement does not occur, then we are fully prepared to present the case of our client to a jury and explain the past and future suffering of our client so that they can determine what compensation is fair.

Call Us to Get Started

You may be reluctant to sue a friend or neighbor, but it is vital to realize that most homeowner’s insurance policies have coverage for these types of injuries; thus, your loved one may not have to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses.

[1] Multi-year report, DogsBit.org, https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-multi-year-fatality-report-2005-2017.php?gclid=CjwKCAjw57b3BRBlEiwA1ImytmWhKv6PNPqGSU1UV636d7cpicrqtE0QnYZe2DvuEJpWZ-8XMZ9TAhoCDMQQAvD_BwE

How Can We Help?

Please call us at 413.781.0000 or fill out this form.

  • The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.