I was bit by a dog. Do I need to get a lawyer?

Asked almost 5 years ago - Boston, MA

I was recently bit by a dog while walking down a high-traffic street. The dog was tied to a tree. I ended up having to go the emergency room and get stitches in my leg. Should I sue the dog owner?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Marc Lawrence Breakstone

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . You should speak with a lawyer who has experience with this type of case before you make any decisions about whether or not to sue. If you can identify the owner of the dog, and if the owner or keeper of the dog has homeowner's or renter's insurance, then your injury claim can probably be settled without filing a lawsuit. Some people handle these claims directly with the insurance company. However, you would be doing the insurance company a huge favor, and probably will obtain a much smaller recovery if you pursue the matter without an attorney. My firm has years of experience handling these cases. Please feel free to call me at 617-723-7676 should you wish to speak further. Good luck.

  2. Garrett Jorgen Lee

    Contributor Level 3

    Answered . Yes, you should contact a lawyer.

  3. Theodore John Koban

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . It really depends on the circumstance and the extent of your injuries. You mention the dog being tied to a tree so, in theory, it was possible that you could have walked around the dog at a point where he couldn't reach you. Do you know of witnesses? Did the dog have a prior history of biting? What is the nature and extent of your injuries? Did you lose time from work? Have you suffered scarring? You really should talk to a lawyer and get an opinion as to the value range for your injuries ( BTW - this can be hard to do at the first consultation) so you can make an intelligent decision on whether you should bring a claim. If you had stiches I assume the bite was rather severe. But, no-one is going to be able to give you a definitve answer without delving into the particulars of the situation. The dog owner will need to have be proven negligent inorder for you to recover. Here in Mass. jurors are given a jury instruction that states, basically, that the occurance of an accident is not, in and of itself, evidence of negligence. You will need more than just the occurance of the bite to prevail.

  4. Joseph K. Chancellor

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . I am happy to take this case for you. I have handled many of them and they are great cases to take. Please call me and I'll let you know your options. You can reach me at (617) 725-2675, or (413) 210-6701
    Joseph Chancellor

  5. Gregory Casale

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . As long as you can identify the owner of the dog, you can certainly sue. Getting a dog bite that is substantial enough that you needed stitches and medical treatment would suggest that the injury is severe enough to warrant a legal claim. It was not your fault that the dog bit you. Why should you suffer without being compensated. So long as the dog owner is insured, it is most likely that the case would be settled without a trial. This is exactly the type of thing that people have insurance for and to not avail yourself of the benefits available to you would be to allow the insurance company to profit while you suffer. I would be happy to discuss this with you in further detail and if you feel comfortable with me and my office after our discussion I would be happy to represent you with this case. The most important thing for you right now is to find a lawyer that you trust, whom you feel confident in. Feel free to call. There is no cost for a consultation and no fee to you unless we get you a settlement.

  6. John J Sheehan

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . In general, Massachusetts has a strict liability statute against the owner or keeper of a dog who bites you as long as you were not taunting or teasing the dog. The practical question is insurance. Does the dog owner or keeper of the dog own a home. If so, you may be able to make a claim through the homeowner's insurance. You would be entitled to recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement caused by the dog bit. In some instances, there may be additional recovery if the dog in question was under a restraining order issued by the municipality concerning a prior attach. I'd be happy to discuss this with you further if you'd like. Feel free to call me at 617-973-1593. Good luck!

  7. Laura Mcfarland-Taylor

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I agree with my colleagues - if you can identify the dog's owner you can either pursue them through their insurer or small claims court.

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