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How can I be liable if someone else's dog bit me?

No matter how cute someone's furry friend is, sometimes they lash out. That is how you can end up with an extremely painful dog bite, and the fear of potential disease. But wait - if the dog bit you, how are you suddenly in Massachusetts courts facing potential prosecution? How could you possibly be held liable for your own injury?

The answer is that you are not being held liable for the injury, but the circumstances leading up to the injury. Massachusetts dog bite law details two circumstances in which not only is the dog owner (or, in the event of a minor, the dog owner's parents or legal guardians) not liable for any personal injury caused to you by the dog, but may also be able to pursue legal action against you. The first circumstance is if you were trespassing on private property, or committing some other tort that might result in legal liability. This is especially true if the owner of the premises gave written notice via sign or other posting that a guard dog was on the premises.

The other instance involves tormenting and harassing the animal. If you were in any way tormenting the animal, thus provoking it to bite, then you may be held accountable for your actions leading up to the bite. Exceptions to both trespass and torment clauses may occur if the perpetrator was under the age of seven years old.

Please use this blog post only for educational and informational purposes, and not as a substitute for valid legal counsel.

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