Getting bit or attacked by a dog is a tremendously traumatic event, one that many people have a hard time moving past.
Physical and mental scars may remain long after the attack, which is why it’s absolutely imperative that if you are a victim of a dog attack in Massachusetts, you pursue legal action quickly.
But how do you know if you have a solid dog bite case to begin with, one that’s worth pursuing legally?
While it’s always best to speak directly to a Fall River Attorney, it’s also important that you know your rights as the victim.
HERE’S HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE A GOOD DOG BITE CASE IN THE GREATER FALL RIVER AREA.
First off, it’s important to know that in Massachusetts, a person has three years from the date of the dog attack to file a lawsuit. If you don’t file a court case before the deadline, you’ll almost surely not be able to bring your case to court.
Each state handles dog bite cases differently. Most states fall under one of two categories:
- Negligence, or
- Strict liability
Massachusetts is a strict liability dog bite state. This means that dog owners are still liable for injuries their dogs cause, even if the owner had no prior knowledge that the dog would bite or cause injury.
To put it differently, if you’re injured by a dog in Fall River, you don’t need to show fault on the part of the owner in order to win your case. This goes beyond dog bites: if a dog knocks you down or causes injury in any other way, the strict liability rule still applies.
HOW DOG OWNERS IN MASSACHUSETTS DEFEND AGAINST LAWSUITS
Knowing whether you have a solid dog biting case means knowing what type of defense the dog owner might put up.
Dog-related lawsuits in Massachusetts typically have two possible defenses:
- Trespassing, and
Trespassing: You may not have a strong dog bite case if you were trespassing or committing another civil wrong at the time.
Provocation: Your case may also be weakened if it can be proven that you teased, tormented, or abused the dog in question.
BUT IS IT WORTH PURSUING LEGAL ACTION? THE FINANCIAL ASPECT OF DOG BITE LAWSUITS IN FALL RIVER
The information outlined above is designed to help you determine whether you have a viable case worth pursuing.
However, you also have to consider the financial aspect. Firstly, there’s insurance. Typically, homeowners are covered by their own insurance, while renters would need renters’ insurance to be covered.
This insurance coverage is key, for two reasons. First, the existence of insurance means there’ll be money available to pay you, the victim.
Second, the existence of insurance by the liable party means you, as the victim, could have an easier time retaining an attorney on a contingency fee basis.
Fall River Lawyers who cover dog bite incidents often times don’t ask for payment until and unless money is recovered. If there is no insurance, however, the victim rarely can retain a lawyer because of the improbability of collecting enough money to compensate both victim and attorney.
You also have to consider how much compensation is at stake.
The amount of compensation depends on the nature and extent of the injury, medical treatment and more (including scarring, disability, loss of income, emotional injuries, etc.).
The only people who can estimate the amount of compensation at stake are attorneys and insurance adjusters. For that reason, it’s vital that a dog bite victim consult with a lawyer, who can then let the victim know whether it’s worth pursuing a case.
DETERMINE WHETHER YOU SHOULD PURSUE A DOG BITE CASE IN FALL RIVER, SOMERSET AND BEYOND
There are a lot of factors to consider regarding a dog bite incident. Did you, the victim, incite the incident? Were you committing a crime at the time? Is it even financially worth pursuing a case?
The best way to determine the answers to these questions is to hire a Fall River Attorney who specializes in dog bite cases. The team here at Sabra & Aspden have recovered more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients throughout Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and beyond.
Contact us today for a free consultation!