In the United States, nearly 4.7 million people are bitten or injured by dogs each year. About 10 percent of those people are wounded badly enough to need treatment at a hospital. If you count yourself among these thousands of unfortunate Americans, keep reading to see what options you may have under Massachusetts law.

Does Massachusetts Have a Law Relating to Dog Bite Laws?

In Massachusetts, the law is clear when someone is bitten or injured by a dog. Chapter 140, Section 155 of the Massachusetts General Laws states that the owner or keeper of a dog is liable for all damage caused by their animal, which would include personal injuries caused by the bite or attack. This is referred to as “strict liability”.

There are only two exceptions to this strict liability in Massachusetts:

  1. if the injured person was trespassing at the time of the dog bite; and
  2. if the injured person had been teasing or tormenting the dog before being bitten.

Under the law, children under the age of 7 are assumed to not have been trespassing or teasing or tormenting the dog. In short, this law makes it clear that it is the responsibility of dog owners to ensure their animals are well-behaved and trained.

In addition, Massachusetts law provides further protection if a dog has already been found to be dangerous. Chapter 140, Section 159 of Massachusetts General Laws states that a dog owner can be liable for treble damages (three times the damages awarded by a jury) if a dog previously deemed as dangerous by a court goes on to harm a person.

What Should I Do If I Am the Victim of a Dog Bite or Attack?

At their earliest opportunity, victims of a dog attack should seek legal counsel and explore their options. Often, homeowners’ insurance and other umbrella insurance policies for the dog owner may be available to compensate you for your damages. At SUGARMAN, we have decades of experience dealing with dog bite cases and we know how to recover the maximum for our clients. If you have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, please call 617-542-1000 to speak with one of our attorneys or email us at