Now that the coldest and shortest month of the year is behind us, Massachusetts residents get to look forward to seemingly the longest, and arguably the most boring month of the year. (Unless you are a fan of March Madness).
March isn’t all bad. We are starting to see more 50+ degree days, sidewalks are clearing up, and that nasty dirt, salt, exhaust slush mix that is all over the roads is slowly thawing out and being swept away. For those of us who have been cooped up in the house for the last few months because of the cold, that first sunny walk can’t come soon enough. It’s starting to become warm enough to get outside and work on shedding that winter coat (literally and figuratively) you may have acquired over the last few months.
Walking the dog is a great way to become more active, and naturally will happen with more frequency as the weather gets warmer. Some of our dogs may be even more excited to get outdoors than we are. As much as we like to think we know our pets, always keep in mind that all animals have their own set of behaviors, instincts, and rules that are completely different from our own. Excitement can quickly turn into aggressive behavior, which can lead to a dog bite and/or attack.
Here are some basic safety tips for walking your dog.
- Train your dog to behave on a leash and seek help to address any behavioral problems.
- Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.
- If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.
- Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason.
If you are on a walk and an unfamiliar dog that you do not choose to interact with approaches you:
- Stay still and be calm.
- Do not panic or make loud noises.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
- Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.
Massachusetts Dog Bite Law
According to Massachusetts Law, the owner, or in the case of a minor, the parents of the owner of a dog that damages either the body or property of a person is liable for such damage. There are exceptions to this rule. If it was determined that the person bitten or hurt by the dog was trespassing on the owner’s property, or if the person bitten or hurt by the dog was teasing, tormenting or otherwise abusing the dog, the dog owner may not be liable for the attack or harm.
Dog Bite / Dog Attack Statistics
According to estimates provided by the Insurance Information Institute, the dollar value of insurance claims (settlements and verdicts) as a result of dog bites / injuries caused by dogs has more than doubled since 2003. Below is a chart showing a breakdown of the estimated numbers from 2003 to 2017. The Insurance Information Institute also has some good information on liability and safety tips for dog owners that are worth a read.
|Year||Value of Claims ($ millions)||Number of Claims||Average Cost Per Claim|
|% change, 2016-2017||14.0%||2.2%||11.5%|
|% change, 2003-2017||111.7%||9.5%||93.4%|
If You’ve Been Injured by a Dog, Contact Spada Law Group
Roughly half of the country’s households own at least one dog – so the dog bite injury numbers above should not come as too much of a surprise. In fact, dog ownership is the highest it has been since 1982 when records were first kept on this statistic. These attacks can leave victims with permanent scars or disabilities. Assessing the true extent of damage is difficult with dog attack cases. If you’ve been injured by a dog, whether you were bitten or not, it is important to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer while the details are still fresh in your mind. The sooner you speak with the attorneys at Spada Law Group, the better chance you have of successfully resolving your claim. We will start building your case soon after our first consultation. Contrary to what some people believe, there is much work that goes into properly handling a dog attack case. There are the issues of ownership, available insurance and the proper presentation of the scarring and injury component of the case. We have successfully handled many dog attack cases over the last 25 years. Let us help you.
With offices in Chelsea and Salem, MA, Spada Law Group provides Boston quality legal representation without the commute into the city with free on-premises or validated parking. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Call Spada Law Group today at 617-889-5000 or fill out our contact form to discuss your situation. The consultation is free and there is absolutely no obligation to hire us. We are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.