Dog Bite Attorney in Boston
Attacked by a Dog in Boston?
We have a great city for people to enjoy a walk or playtime with their dogs. Places like Boston Common and Carleton Dog Park are full of Bostonians spending time with their furry friends; however, it is not always fun and games. The Boston Public Health Commission receives over 300 reports of dog bites each year. That’s a lot, especially for a city in a state ranked last for dog ownership in the entire U.S.
At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we understand a dog bite can be traumatic for victims - especially when the victim is a child, which most of them are. Parents may be concerned about the immediate injury, long-term implications, the possibility of disfigurement, and the emotional trauma. What rights do Boston attack victims have, and what about the responsibilities of dog owners?
Call the Boston dog bite attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (617) 870-0907 for a free consultation. At our office in Boston, we’ll advise what you’re entitled to under Massachusetts’s strict liability law.
Boston Dog Bite Law
As a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston follows the practice of strict liability. This means dog owners are assumed responsible if their dogs bite someone. The victim does not need to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. The owner kept the dog on a leash or in a fenced yard? Doesn’t matter. If the dog escapes, the owner is still responsible for the damage the dog causes.
The only instances where the dog’s owner is not responsible are if the victim was teasing, provoking, or abusing the dog; if the victim was trespassing when bitten; or if the victim was committing a crime when bitten, such as assaulting the dog’s owner.
Children and Dog Bites
Most children are curious about animals and want to touch or play with dogs, especially if they have a dog at home. Children don’t understand that dogs come in a variety of temperaments - some are scared or become agitated easily, and lash out as a protective instinct. Adults should remain vigilant when a child is around any dog, especially a large dog.
Due to the smaller size of young children, bites tend to be on the face, head, and neck, making them much more serious than a bite to an adult. Even a "minor" bite should be examined by a medical professional. If you witness a child being bitten by a dog, immediately move the child to a safe location and call 911 if the bite is of a serious nature. Apply a clean cloth or towel to control bleeding and remain with the child until help arrives. If possible, have someone follow the dog and try to get a picture of it in order to contact the dog’s owner. A minor dog bite can cause serious complications, so a medical evaluation is always important.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
There are instances where injuries inflicted on a person from a dog attack are so grave, they result in permanent disfigurement or death of the victim. Though this only happens in severe cases, it's not unheard of for dog attack wounds to need complicated reconstructive surgeries along with extended medical care to adequately treat. There are various injuries that can result directly from a dog bite, but some of the most common include:
- Broken bones: A dog’s jaws are more powerful than most people would think. If a dog can get a firm grip on a body part, it can easily break bones with its bite. Even minor bone injuries will hinder your ability to perform physical acts you would otherwise find simple, including doing your job, which can lead to a loss in wages.
- Muscle and nerve damage: Dogs bites can puncture deep enough to do severe damage to tissue underneath a victim’s skin. Acute damage to nerves and muscles can significantly hinder movement, and in incredibly grave cases, cause paralysis of damaged limbs and wounded areas.
- Infection: If a dog breaks your skin with its claws or teeth in a violent attack, bacteria can be transferred into the wounds. When pathogens enter an injury, it can become vulnerable to infection. Infection symptoms include redness, swelling, and pus discharge.
- Scarring: While some wounds fully heal with the appropriate medical care and time, vicious bites often leave lasting scars on the body. Scars serve as a constant reminder of the horrific onslaught you endured, which may have an effect on your quality of life. Some scars are so severe you may have reduced movement in limbs, and may require extensive reconstructive surgeries.
In addition to the physical damage that dog bites leave behind, victims frequently experience emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress. The psychological effects of a bite can be just as detrimental as any injury, especially when a child has been hurt. The fear of dogs (cynophobia) can stay with children well into adulthood, and there is a possibility of recurring nightmares, being scared to go outside, and other anxiety-related issues.
What to Do After a Bite in Boston
Even when a dog bite is cleaned, it has a greater chance of becoming infected than other types of wounds. Watch for swelling, tenderness, and oozing. Check for a fever or chills regularly. If any of these symptoms appear, seek immediate medical care. Children are also more likely than adults to suffer from emotional trauma after a dog bite. Seek the help of a trained counselor if your child has nightmares or fear of dogs after being bitten.
Medical care after any Boston dog bite can be expensive, especially if the victim is a child. Facial bites often require plastic surgery to avoid permanent scars. Bites to extremities such as hands or legs can cause lifelong nerve damage or loss of use. Once your loved one is safe and receiving medical care, it is important that you contact a Boston personal injury lawyer at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (617) 870-0907 to schedule a free consultation. Knowing your rights and how to seek compensation from the dog’s owner can relieve your concerns over this traumatic event.