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Anatomy of a Dog Bite Case

Suffolk Academy of Law

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I.          Immediate Considerations

A.        Medical Treatment and Photographs

B.        Vet/Rabies Records (AML §109, PHL §2145)

C.        Seizure of Animal / ID of Owner (AML §118)

D.        Injuries to People, Property or Other Animals
II.         Legal Proceedings

  1. Dangerous Dog Proceeding (AML §121)
  1. Legal Standards and Procedure (Clear and Convincing Evidence)
  2. Possible Outcomes and Consequences (Restraint to Euthanasia)
  1. Tort Actions / Misconceptions (PJI 2:220)

1.         Vicious Propensities / One Free Bite Rule (Strict Liability)

2.         Violation of Statute as Negligence Per Se

3.         Breach of Duty of Care to Prevent Foreseeable Injury as Negligence

4.         Defenses:

(a)       Ownership / Control

(b)       Provocation / Justification

(c)        No Knowledge of Vicious Propensity

(d)       Statute of Limitations

(e)       Proximate Causation

(f)        Assumption of the Risk

(g)       Comparative Negligence

(h)       No Duty of Care / Foreseeable Injury

C.        Municipal Violations (AML Art. 7, Town Codes)

1.         Leash Law Violations (Negligence Per Se)

2.         Unlicensed or Excessive Pets

D.        Criminal Cases (Menacing to Murder)


III.        Insurance Matters

  1. Liability Coverage, Medical Expenses and Defense of Lawsuit
  1. Termination or Non-Renewal of Homeowner’s Insurance
  1. Animal Restrictions