Each state has its own laws that determine whether a person can sue a dog’s owner for the cost of a bite injury. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire have a strict liability law, which means that the injured person can seek legal damages from the dog’s owner even if the animal had no history of aggression.
These are the factors that contribute to this type of legal claim in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Exceptions to strict liability
Despite the strict liability laws in these states, dog owners are not always legally responsible for injuries that their animals cause. You may not have a successful case if the defendant can prove that you were trespassing on her or his property at the time of the attack, provoked the animal or were committing a civil tort such as theft when the dog bit you.
New Hampshire may award damages to the plaintiff from a person other than the dog’s owner. For example, if you were in a business that allows clients to bring dogs on the premises and a dog bit you, you could sue the business as well as the dog’s owner.
Statute of limitations
For dog bite incidents that occurred in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, the injured person has three years to file a lawsuit. Both states maintain the same statute of limitations for personal injury. Failure to bring your claim to court within the statute of limitations will result in dismissal of the suit.
Types of damages
Both states allow personal injury plaintiffs to recover both monetary damages, such as medical costs and lost wages, and nonmonetary damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering. Neither Massachusetts nor New Hampshire limit the recoverable damage amount in a personal injury lawsuit involving a dog bite. However, Massachusetts does have limits for medical malpractice claims.
While many states have a one-bite law limiting liability when the owner did not know that his or her dog would attack, Massachusetts and New Hampshire dog owners are not subject to such a rule.