02 Jul 2012 Massachusetts Dog Bite Liability: Knowing the Law and Insurance
According to the laws within Massachusetts, dog owners are responsible for just about anything their animal does (not just including biting). With this in mind, don’t start to examine your responsibilities as a dog owner after something goes wrong, then it’s already too late. The route of prevention, training and cautiousness is the path you’ll want to follow.
The dog bite liability laws in Massachusetts are simple – you’re responsible for the actions of your animal. A dog’s owner is responsible for any and all damage caused – this includes property damage and injuries. Your dog is your responsibility! Here in Massachusetts they label it the ‘dog bite’ law, but the law is all encompassing.
The law’s in Massachusetts doesn’t require that dog owners carry a specific amount of insurance coverage. Typically, when purchasing your home or renters insurance policy; one of the questions you’ll be asked is if you have any pets. It’s important to be honest. Honesty is important because if the insurance company doesn’t know about the animal they are not going to cover any claims initiated (especially that have to do with the animal).
Recommended limits of liability for home and renters insurance policies are $1,000,000. An umbrella policy can further your protection and coverages. Your insurance policy will not pay anything above your policy limits, which is why it’s vital to have enough insurance and be thinking ahead. Otherwise you could end up paying out of pocket for damage that your animal causes.
The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a few interviews with dog training experts during Dog Bite Prevention Week informing dog owners of the importance of controlling their dog. One if the first points made was that some certain breeds are ‘known’ for biting, but any dog can act aggressively if they feel frightened, nervous, or uncomfortable; typically it’s not because they are overly mean or aggressive. Teaching your animal different ways to cope with uncomfortable situations is the key along with socializing them when they are still young.
Since children are the most common targets, dog owners should never leave children alone with the dog. Some of the most common situations that evoke a dog to bite are playing with children, children running and improperly approaching the dog (even if they know you). Insecurity and uncertainly can cause any animal to act it ways that it might not ordinarily. Proper training and understanding of your animal and their physical and emotional state are the best ways to prevent these types of situations.
*Authored by Amanda Spittell.
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For more information about this topic, or to get answers about your current insurance situation, stop our office in Franklin, Massachusetts or give us a call at (800) 941-3317.