Dog Attack Bicycle Accident Attorney in Boston

While dogs have been referred to as man's best friend, that adage does not necessarily hold true for bicycle riders. A dog that runs into a bicycle or attacks a cyclist can cause the rider to suffer severe and permanent injuries.

In Boston and throughout Massachusetts, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs under MGL c. 140, § 155. However, these cases are not always a sure thing. To assure that your claim is handled correctly, it is best to team up with a skilled lawyer.

For more than 40 years, the bicycle attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers have been helping injured cyclists recover maximum compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. Our law firm provides free legal consultations and takes cases on a contingency fee basis. As a result, you pay nothing until we obtain money for you.

Our caring and compassionate attorneys understand that a dog attack can be physically and emotionally traumatic. While a cash settlement will never erase your trauma, it can help with the financial burden and help you move forward on the path to healing.

Dog Attacks and Bicycle Accidents in Boston

It is almost impossible to find an avid cyclist who has never been chased by a dog.

There are more than 7,000 registered dogs in Boston alone. Dogs allowed to run off-leash or roam the city's streets pose a danger to bicycle riders and pedestrians. These incidents often occur where people let their dogs loose, such as residential areas and shared-use paths frequented by both dog walkers and bicycle riders.

When dogs are allowed off-leash, they can run out in the street and into the path of a moving bicycle and cause a serious accident. The cyclist may crash trying to swerve out of the animal's way. A dog that becomes entangled in a bicycle's wheels can cause the cyclist to fly over the handlebars and onto the road.

Dogs have something known as a "chase drive" that prompts them to run after moving objects like cars and bicycles. A dog that chases a bicyclist down a street can cause a nasty crash.

Once a bicyclist is on the ground, the dog may attack. However, keep in mind that certain dog breeds are more likely to bite than others. It is important to note that not all dogs that attack cyclists are vicious. Even a friendly dog that gives chase can cause a serious crash.

Common Dog Attack Injuries Sustained by Bicyclists

In most cases, dog attack injuries affect a bicycle rider's lower extremities. This is especially true if the cyclist manages to pedal away from the animal without falling to the ground. Dogs usually attack from the rear, so injuries to the back of a cyclist's legs and thighs are common.

However, if the attack causes the rider to fall, the injuries can be more expansive.

Common dog attack injuries that bicycle riders in Boston suffer include:

  • Head injuries
  • Bite wounds, including tendon and muscle damage
  • Facial injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Scarring
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Dog bite wounds range from minor to severe. The American Animal Hospital Association reports that almost five million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year.

The breed of a dog plays a role in the severity of the bite. For example, large, powerful dogs like pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds can inflict serious damage. Depending on the severity of the wound, accident victims may need stitches or multiple surgeries. In addition, wounds that become infected can cause ongoing medical issues.

Although the risk is low, dog bite victims also run the risk of contracting rabies, especially when the dog is a stray. In addition to physical damage, a dog attack is a traumatic event that can leave a victim with long-lasting emotional scars.

Child bicycle riders risk suffering catastrophic injuries when attacked by dogs.

If a dog has bitten you, obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. A physician will treat your wound to prevent infection and start a series of rabies shots if needed.

Make sure that you take photos of your injuries. This evidence could be critical to any financial recovery.

Obtaining Compensation for a Dog Attack from an Insurance Company

If you are attacked by a dog while riding a bicycle, you may be able to obtain compensation from the homeowner's insurance company of the dog owner.

First, you will need to identify the dog's owner to determine if the owner even has an insurance policy that covers dog attacks or bites. Keep in mind that certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls, are often excluded from homeowners coverage without a specific rider.

Finding a loose dog's owner is not always an easy feat. Following a dog attack, you should call the police and file a report. The police, with the help of animal control, may be able to track down the animal, especially if it has attacked someone in the past. Plus, it is always beneficial to have a police report to support your version of the events after any accident.

In addition, you should contact Boston's Animal Care and Control. The department enforces the City's legal ordinances and laws that apply to dogs and other animals and will be able to tell you if the dog is licensed or has been vaccinated.

When the identity of the dog's owner is established, an experienced personal injury attorney can determine whether the owner has coverage and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to maximize your recovery.

According to one study, the insurance industry paid nearly $800 million in liability claims connected to dog bites and dog-related injuries in 2019. Most homeowners have somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000 in dog bite insurance.

How to Avoid Being Attacked by Dogs While Riding a Bicycle

Most dogs that chase after bicycles are merely defending their territory. When you pedal away from their turf, they usually stop running and lose interest. Knowing how dogs think and behave can help a bicycle rider avoid a dog attack.

For example, a dog with an easy gait, raised ears, and a wagging tail is just looking to play. However, a dog sprinting at you with ears back, tail down, and teeth bared is on the attack.

Here are some safety tips that can help you keep dogs at bay when you are traveling around Boston on two wheels:

Pedal fast: In many cases, a cyclist can speed away from the dog and out of its territory. Make sure traffic allows for a quick and safe getaway.

Protect your front tire: Try to keep your front tire ahead of the dog. If the dog gets in front, both of you will be worse for wear.

Stay calm: Do not let your fear and anxiety get the best of you. If you dart off in a desperate attempt to outrun a dog, you may crash or get hit by a nearby car.

Yell: A sudden shout of "No!" or "Stay!" may surprise the dog and give you the time you need to escape or alert the dog's owner that there is a problem.

Blow: An air horn mounted to the handlebars can scare away even the fiercest mutt.

Spray: Some cyclists spray dangerous dogs with pepper spray that they keep clipped to the handlebars. Pepper spray will sting a dog's eyes and nose, but not cause permanent damage. Some are specially formulated to deter canines from attacking. The only drawback is that pepper spray can be difficult to use when both you and Fido are moving. Similarly, some cyclists have had success thwarting dog attacks by dousing the animals with water from a water bottle.

Dismount: If you cannot out-peddle a dog giving chase, you should get off your bicycle and use it as a shield from the snarling canine. If you must, swing it like a weapon and shout for help. Never use more force than necessary to keep yourself safe.

Although your instinct may be to kick at a charging dog, bicycle safety experts do not recommend this strategy. You can lose your balance and fall from your bicycle, or the dog may grab ahold of your foot or leg and pull you off.

If the same dog bothers you every time you ride a particular road, report this to the police and aminal control. If possible, video the dog and show the footage to the authorities. You have the right to ride on public roads without fear for your health and well-being.

If you are a bicyclist who has suffered an injury in a dog attack, contact the bicycle attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers at (617) 777-7777 or fill out our electronic form.

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