How Beware of Dog Signs Affect Liability in Massachusetts
A dog owner might assume a “Beware of Dog” sign will protect them from liability if a dog bites and injuries any person present on the property. Warning passersby, visitors, and guests about the presence of a dog may be considered a strong defense against a lawsuit. Even in a strict liability state like Massachusetts, a posted sign may suggest that a dog bite victim was aware of the risk – but this is not true in every case.
Could a Sign Help Protect a Property Owner?
If someone posts a “Beware of Dog” sign on their property to warn visitors of a dangerous dog, it could provide protection in a couple of ways:
- The sign warns everyone from passersby to trespassers that they should maintain distance from the property to avoid becoming the victim of an attack. As a result, this could potentially protect the property owner from liability.
- If a property owner is aware that their dog is dangerous, they are required by law to keep it humanely confined and to post warning signs on the property as to where the dog is being kept. By posting a sign, you are fulfilling this duty.
In cases where a person is lawfully visiting a dog owner’s property and the dog bites them, having a posted sign on the property would not absolve the dog owner of liability. If the dog previously bit another individual, even a trespasser could potentially recover damages for a dog bite injury.
What Happens if a Dog Escapes a Property?
Dog owners are expected to keep dangerous dogs securely confined in a manner that is humane, whether it be indoors or in a locked pen that effectively keeps children away from it. If the dog escapes and injures someone, however, the owner could be held liable for the injuries inflicted. These are Massachusetts laws regarding a dog that is deemed dangerous:
- The dog must be humanely restrained or tied to an inanimate object.
- The dog must be confined to the owner’s property.
- The owner of the dog must maintain a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance.
- When the dog is removed from the owner’s property, it must be restrained and muzzled with a tethering device that has a tensile strength of at least 300 pounds.
If a dog that escaped someone’s property attacks and bites you, resulting in injuries, you could hold the dog’s owner liable for the injuries you sustained, regardless of any signs that were posted on their property.
Although, in some cases, a “Beware of Dog” sign could limit a property owner’s liability, a “No Trespassing” is often more effective in guarding against liability in Massachusetts because it warns people against trespassing onto the property.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
If you were bitten and injured by a dog, even when the dog’s owners had a sign posted to their property, it is essential to hire skilled legal representation as soon as possible. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C. in Methuen, our firm was founded in 2007 and Christopher DiBella has been practicing since 2004, so you can feel confident you will receive experienced legal services when you choose to work with us. You could potentially recover monetary damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Reach out to a Methuen personal injury lawyer today at (978) 327-5140 to schedule a free initial case review with a knowledgeable member of our legal team to get started on your claim.