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TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 4164
Experience:  Lead Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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Hi, Yesterday an unleashed dog attacked my mother in the street

Customer Question

Hi, Yesterday an unleashed dog attacked my mother in the street right in front of his careless owner who was on her cell phone and did not bother to slow the dog down. My mother who is a 76 year old got scared and lost balance and fell. Now she is in tremendous pain and unable to do her daily activities because of pain. What should we do??
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear about this. I have a few questions I need you to answer before I can provide you with guidance.

Did the dog physically knock your mother down?

Have you taken your mother to the doctor for a diagnosis?

In what town/city did this occur?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

-ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

- He ran across the street to her barking in an angry way while the owner was standing on the other side talking on phone. My mother begged the lady hold him, hold him I am scared of dogs. She did not do anything. So dog continued to ran to her. Before he touches my mother she stepped back to escape and fell and after she fell the dog touched her in her chest.


- She called me and I asked her to see her pcp which luckily happened the same day. They told there are some bruises and may be some fragility fractures in her vertebrae as she has osteoporosis already. Recommended her rest, pain meds, and walker.


- This happened in north andover in MA.


I hope I have answered you fully.


 


Thanks

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response.

In Massachusetts, owners of dogs have strict liability for any damage caused by the pet. The law states:

"If any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or if the owner or keeper be a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, is under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action." MGL c.140, s.155.

So, your mother is entitled to payment for her medical bills, the future medical expenses she will incur as a proximate result of the injuries she sustained because of the dog attack, an award for pain and suffering, loss of mobility and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the injury.

The main question in this case is whether your mother will be able to establish that there are actual injuries which were caused by the attack, and were not already present because of her advanced age. I tell you this so that you can be prepared for the defense. The other issue will be whether or not this person has money to pay this amount. an incident like this may possibly be covered under the person's homeowners' insurance (some policies provide coverage), but will likely not be covered by an insurance policy. This means the person may not have the ability to pay any judgment rendered against him.

In order to correctly assess your mother's potential for recovery, one would need to investigate the financial status of the dog owner and whether the person is employed. If you get a judgment, you can seize and sell his non-exempt property and can also garnish his wages. If this person is poor and has a low paying job, then you will know that you should not invest much in the litigation, as it will not likely render much of a pay out for your mother.

You have two options of how to proceed. Your mother can file the suit in small claims court and represent herself, or your mother can hire a lawyer and file the suit in the regular court (district or superior). It would be best to first write a demand letter to the person to see if they are willing and able to settle. You could also hire a private investigator to give you a quick overview of the person's finances. If the demand letter fails to cause a settlement, it would be best to hire a lawyer to press the case further, as this involves what sound to be severe medical injuries and thus the amount of money involved will be more than is allowed on a claim in small claims court.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the information.


So at this point I do not know how many days and how long she will suffer.


I do not know how she will recover. At this point she only has pain and cant walk but I am not sure how long it might take.


Does she have a golden time to do the above or can she wait and see how she recovers?


 

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
A suit for this type of claim must be filed within 3 years of the incident. So, she can wait to see how she recovers (so that she has a better understanding of the permanency of her injuries). However, if she does this, she would be wise to take a lot of photos of her in her injured state so that a jury could see how she was right after the incident.
TexLaw, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 4164
Experience: Lead Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
TexLaw and 4 other Personal Injury Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks. So she has some bruises. But they did not do xray as the thought itis not gonna change the treatment if it is a fragility fracture in vertebra or not. and the amount of pain can not be recorded.


But she will not be able to do shopping, cooking, cleaning by herself. She wont be able to commute to places. and she will be house bound while we are not around her. How these can be documented?


 


So do you recommend she go further and perform xray in case?

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
She should keep a diary of the pain she is undergoing and where the pain is. She should write in the diary a scale of pain from 1 to 10 (being the worst). She should also keep a diary of the things she needs to do but cant and what she must do to work around her limitations caused by the injury.

In regard to the doctor's treatment, you will need more than that. She will need to be seen by a doctor who will be willing to offer testimony at trial in the form of an expert opinion on her medical condition. This can sometimes be done through a person's insurance if the doctor is willing to participate. Nevertheless, often, one will have to hire a doctor to perform this work and conduct further tests (even MRIs to get a clear view of the actual injury).

As that is the case, I do recommend that she immediately get x-rays done and that she consult with her doctor as to putting a written report of her injuries together that shows that the injuries (or the exacerbation of her fragile condition) was made worse by the fall caused by the dog attack.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much indeed.


So she needs to contact her insurance to find the doctor who will testimony for her or is expert in injuries?what kind of doctor it should be? do you know?


 


and lasty, do you know how much t might cost for her to hire a lawyer?


 

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
She does not need to contact her insurance, she needs to contact a doctor. Most likely an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in back injuries. It will be up to the doctor as to whether he/she can work out payment for this expert work through the insurance. He/she may be able to treat your mother and give his/her opinion in the medical record, which would be covered by insurance. But trial testimony usually requires direct payment to the doctor and can be quite expensive.

In terms of hiring a lawyer, you may be able to find a lawyer to take the case on contingency, which means that the lawyer is not paid unless your mother's case is won.

The most important aspect in all of this is whether the person who owned the dog actually has any money or not. Without the money, there is no reason to spend any money of your own on the case.

-ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Got you .

Thanks.

Apparently they should have the money. She told she is a cardiac nurse!!

 

Any final advice?

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
When searching for a lawyer, make an appointment with several and see who will offer the best terms and who you feel most comfortable with.

Also, don't let any doctor talk your mother into any kind of surgery.
Sometimes when lawyers get involved with medical treatment, there is a tendency to encourage dramatic treatment to pump up the damage model. But from my experience, for a woman of your mother's age, surgery is more likely to do harm than any good.

Good Luck,
ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Excellent ,


Thank you very much dear ZDN.


 


Have a great day,


Elena

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.

Please let me know if there is any further information I can provide.

Best Regards,
ZDN

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