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Dog Mauls Westfield Boy

A vicious bulldog recently bit an eight-year-old Westfield boy on the arm. Officials say that doctors may not be able to save the boy’s arm.

The young boy, whose name was not released, was letting the dog in the house when the dog bite occurred. The boy’s father said that the dog has “territorial issues,” and asked that the dog be removed and euthanized.

Dog Bite Statistics

Dogs bite 4.7 million Americans each year. 800,000 of these victims seek medical treatment for their injuries. Two-thirds of the injured victims are children under age four. In most states, the victim must prove that the dog owner was negligent and that this negligence caused the injury. Many states even have so-called “first bite laws,” which state that a dog owner is immune to a negligence suit if the dog has never bitten before. However, Massachusetts is different.

Massachusetts Law

In an animal attack case, many insurance companies like to claim that the victim provoked the dog and deny coverage. Since Massachusetts law holds dog owners strictly liable for their animals, a comparative fault defense usually does not hold up in court. In fact, such a defense is generally not available at all if the victim is younger than seven.

Arguably, a dog may not even have to bite the victim. For example, a vicious dog could cause a child to fall off a bicycle or run into traffic and cause an accident. Even if there is a leash law, owner negligence is very difficult to prove in these circumstances.

We take dog bite injuries very seriously at Feinberg and Alban, and always encourage responsible dog ownership.

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