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The victims of Massachusetts dog bites and their injuries

11/26/2014

Despite what some Boston residents believe, any dog — pure bred or mixed breed — may bite. For some dogs, biting occurs only after extreme provocation. Victims bear the pain and suffering, no matter what precedes a dog bite – 50 percent of the injured are children, mostly ages 5 to 9.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year. Around 885,000 people require medical treatment. Injuries were serious enough for 27,000 dog bite victims in 2012 to require reconstructive surgery.

A 2010 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed the most common injuries suffered by medically-treated dog bite victims. Skin and tissue infections affected more than 43 percent and over 22 percent exhibited open wounds on the arms and legs. Another 10.5 percent suffered open wounds to the head, neck and body.

Dog bite injuries can take a long time to heal, leave disfiguring scars and disable or kill a victim. The costs related to a single dog bite have more than doubled since 2003. In 2011, treatment costs associated with an average, single dog bite claim was nearly $29,400, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Who pays the bill?

Under Massachusetts law, a dog’s owner or keeper or the parents of a minor owner or keeper areliable for damages after an attack. Exceptions are trespassers and individuals bitten after teasing or tormenting a dog. These liability exceptions do not apply for children under 7, who are considered too young to understand the consequences of their actions.

Medical attention is the first priority for dog bite victims. At the same time, it is crucial to gather information about the owner and the dog, take photos and report the incident to police. An attorney can help you gather evidence to support a claim and receive maximum compensation for your losses.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Dog Bites” Nov. 23, 2014

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