Understanding Dog Bite Claims in Springfield, Massachusetts
Dogs are a wonderful addition to our families. They are excellent companions. They are fun to watch. They bring joy to our lives. They are, however, animals with instincts that can’t always be predicted or controlled. Even though a dog may never have bared its teeth at anyone, it could one day. When that day happens, who knows what could set the dog off. All that we need to know is this:
- The dog attacked.
- You or someone you love was injured.
- The injury is monetarily quantifiable, meaning––at a minimum––you visited a doctor for it.
- The dog owner, and sometimes a landlord or landowner even if not the dog owner, is responsible for the dog’s actions and, thus, liable for the full costs of your injuries.
If you can satisfy all those elements, then you have a personal injury claim for an injury caused by a dog. In Massachusetts, thousands of dog bite injury claims are filed each year. The average cost per claim in Massachusetts is $43,567.80. Nationwide and according to Insurance Information Institute, nearly $854 million in compensation for dog-related injuries was either settled through the claims process or awarded through the court system in 2020.
At Cava Law Firm, we are dog owners. We know how precious they are, but we’ve also seen how devastating a dog attack can be. It’s not only the wounds, but the post-traumatic stress these types of incidents cause. You deserve maximum compensation, and at Cava Law Firm, we use our resources and skilled team of dog bite lawyers to obtain that for you.
If you have been injured in a dog attack, don’t assume the dog owner’s insurance policy will settle for a fair and just payout. Chances are, they’ll offer a fraction of what they should.
Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies typically cover the costs of injuries caused by the policyholder’s dog. Claims are filed through the insurance company.
Keep in mind, though, that insurance companies are for-profit entities. They want to maximize their own profits while minimizing all payouts. They have adjusters and attorneys who use intimidation and manipulation, making it hard for injured parties to fight for what they are rightfully owed. At Cava Law Firm, we know how to counter their tactics. Schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case with an honest dog bite injury lawyer today.
How an Experienced Springfield Dog Bite Lawyer Can Win Your Case
Dog bite cases aren’t won just because you file a claim. You win a dog bite case when you get adequate compensation for your injury. As mentioned, insurance companies try to deny or reduce claims. Our process at Cava Law Firm to win your case is three-fold.
1. Informing and Communicating with Our Clients
The first step is always discussing your case with you and making sure you understand what’s at stake. The better informed you are, the better decisions you will make.
Part of this process is understanding the Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute, MGL Chapter 140 § 155. Dog bites are not the only compensable injury. Far too many people assume they do not have a case because they were not actually bitten. The law, however, covers incidents where a dog causes injury without biting you. If the dog shoves or pushes a person and that person falls and injures themselves, then the owner is liable. For example, imagine walking on a sidewalk when a dog rushes out of its yard and jumps on you. You fall to the ground, hitting your head hard, causing a minor concussion. The owner of the dog is responsible for the total costs of your injury even though you were never bitten.
It’s the small details that often matter and are what often help clients recover the full worth of their claim.
2. Investigating and Developing a Solid Dog Bite Case
Second, we conduct a thorough investigation and analyze the results of that investigation. Using lay and expert witnesses along with medical records and other documentation, we can build a strong case.
3. Developing an Offense while Countering Any Potential Defenses
Third, we know that insurance companies, whether during settlement talks or preparing for trial, will use any and all defenses possible. We are proactive and counter these potential defenses before the allegations are made.
According to the Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute, there are three defenses that could prevent you from recovering compensation:
- If you were on the property without authorization and not for the defendant’s benefit, you were trespassing. The property or business owner typically does not owe you a duty of care but for limited exceptions.
- If you provoked the dog by teasing, tormenting, or abusing it, then the owner may not be liable or may be only partly liable for the injury.
- Tort commission. If you were committing another wrong (tort) when you were injured by a dog, you may not be able to recover damages. For example, you assaulted the owner and then the dog bit you.
Insurance companies can be sneaky in the way they ask questions, and whatever you say can be used against you. That’s why you should never speak to the other party’s insurance company without first consulting an attorney. Our dog bite lawyers at Cava Law Firm will do all the communicating with the other party’s insurance company. We will be firm, persistent, and fully committed to obtain full and fair compensation.
Dog Bite Injury FAQs
If you or a loved one suffered an injury from a dog, we are here to help through the process. Below, you can find quick responses to some of the most asked questions we get on a regular basis about dog injuries in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then, to get more personalized answers to questions specifically about your dog bite injury, contact us online or call us at (413) 737-3430 to schedule a free initial consultation.
After a dog bite or dog attack, safety is your priority. Depending on the specific circumstances of the incident, you should:
- Contact 911 immediately for medical assistance and for someone to come out and investigate the dog and/or dog owner.
- If you do not immediately contact 911, seek other medical attention to treat the wound and document the incident.
- Gather contact information of any potential eyewitnesses.
- Obtain the dog owner’s contact information, including homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance.
- Photograph the scene and the wound. Depending on where you are, check to see whether any “Beware of Dog” signs are posted.
- Contact Cava Law Firm. We will review your case, answer your specific questions, and advise you on your best options.
Unfortunately, most victims of dog-related injuries are family members, friends, and neighbors. We know that it can be a sensitive matter. Fortunately, though, it’s almost always the insurance company that pays out for the damages you suffer.
The problem occurs when an insurance policy specifically excludes dog injuries. This happens sometimes with specific breeds. We will discuss the issue with you and take all measures to be as sensitive to the situation as possible while ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Dogs attack for many reasons, including but not limited to:
- A reaction to a stressful situation (dogs that are tied up a lot tend to be more aggressive)
- Feeling threatened or fearful
- Past abusive situations
- Wanting to protect puppies or their guardians/owners.
But not all dog-related injuries stem from a dog attack. A dog may just be hyper and jump on someone, causing them to fall and injure themselves. In this scenario, the victim––if they suffered any monetarily quantifiable damages––has a legal right for compensation.
In Massachusetts, for a dog bite injury claim, you can seek compensatory damages. Compensatory damages refer to special and general damages.
Special damages include:
- Property replacement or repairs
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Household expenses.
General damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or impairment
- Mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of companionship (in wrongful death cases).
Massachusetts does not award punitive damages in personal injury cases.
In Massachusetts, per Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260 § 2A, you have three years from the date the dog injured you or a loved one to file a claim. You would think three years is a long time, but it isn’t. Life gets busy, especially when you are trying to recover from a traumatic injury and experience. But, also, you want to make sure you secure the evidence, and that means getting started on your case now and not tomorrow.