Dog bites happen in New Bedford, MA, all too frequently. These attacks can happen to family members or to strangers. Liability in either of the instances will depend on who was responsible for taking care of the animal and where the attack occurred. Below are recent changes in animal liability law. The changes don’t just affect dog owners but anyone who owns a pet.
1. Dog Bite Claims have Increased
State Farm, in collaboration with Insurance Information Institute, released a report that claimed dog bite claims had increased by 15%. In 2016, there were more than 18, 000 dog bite claims against homeowners because of dog bites. The average amount on payouts has increased by $11, 000 since 2006. Research also suggests that payouts in 2016 were more than $600million.
The increase in dog bite claims is largely because of the increased severity of dog bite injuries especially on children and it has very little to do with policy. Massachusetts is a strict liability state. This means that anyone who owns a dog is responsible for the damages it causes.
There is, however, an exception. For instance, you cannot file a dog bite claim if you were bitten by a police dog while it was performing its duties. You also can’t hold a dog owner liable for dog bite injuries if you were trespassing on their property. The state of massachusetts can change its laws at any time and therefore you should consult a New Bedford, MA, dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
2. Statutory Regulations on Cat Ownership
Although the focus has always been on dog ownership, Many states, including Massachusetts, have set up statutory regulations on cat ownership. For instance, in Massachusetts, shelters are not allowed to give away a cat that has not been neutered unless you enter a written agreement with the shelter and you make a deposit of not less than $40 has been given to the shelter. Any cat that’s given away by the shelter or is more than six months old should be neutered within 60 days or your deposit will be deemed unclaimed.
Cat bites are different from dog bites in a number of ways. The gentlest of cats can attack you, a stranger or a friend. Cat bites can lead to infections. However, it is rare to hear about cat bites because they are not as territorial like dogs. But, a cat is more likely to attack a stranger who tries to handle it. A cat bite claim is less likely to end up in court but that doesn’t mean that there is no recourse. You can sue the cat owner for negligence if their cat attacked you and the attack led to serious injuries.
3. Wild Animal Bites
If you own a wild animal, you will be held responsible for any damages or injuries it causes. The only exception to this rule is if someone was attacked on your property by the wild animal and you did not own the animal.
Keeping a wild animal as a pet is risky because they are potentially uncontrollable and dangerous. Wild animal owners are subject to strict liability which means they can be held accountable for injuries caused by their pets whether or not you were at fault. This means that even if you set up warning signs to warn the public that there is a wild animal in your compound, you would still be held liable for any injuries or damage to property that your wild pet causes.
Additionally, you might face criminal charges. In fact, if you provoke a wild animal to attack you, you might just end up in jail. For instance, if you decide to feed a cheetah and instead of eating that tasty snack from your hand it decides to bite your hand off, the state of Massachusetts could prosecute you and fine you as well. This is because Massachusetts has laws against feeding wild animals.
The law does not require you to protect other people against wild animal attacks on your property provided the animas do not belong to you. The exception to this rule, however, applies when it’s proven beyond reasonable doubt that the presence of a wild animal is foreseeable on your property. For instance, if you know your property is infested with snakes, it is your responsibility to ensure that your guests don’t get bitten.
Getting Help from a New Bedford Dog Bite Lawyer
If a dog or any other animal has bitten you or a loved one in New Bedford, MA, you might be eligible to file for a personal injury claim. Hiring a New Bedford dog bite lawyer can help you protect your rights and guide you as to the type of damages you are entitled to. Contact one of our dog bite injury lawyers in New Bedford for a free initial consultation.