People love to say that a dog is man’s best friend. That can be true in many cases. A well-trained and properly cared for dog can be a source of companionship, protection and even medical intervention for those with disabilities, like blindness or diabetes. Unfortunately, dogs can also be incredibly dangerous, particularly to small children.

It only takes a second for a dog to go from adorable pet to vicious biter. Some dogs will bite or attack over the smallest provocation, such as another human hugging their owner. Other dogs may have experienced abuse in their upbringing or have some kind of neurological defect that makes them liable to suddenly “snap” without reason.

Dog bites can cause serious injuries

Even the smallest chihuahua can cause serious damage to a human in the right situation. While a bite by a small dog to the lower leg of an adult human could cause minimum damage, a bite by the same dog to the face or to an infant could cause serious injury. Larger dogs, especially breeds created for hunting and fighting, can do serious damage with even a singe bite to a human.

Broken bones, severe infections, massive blood loss and disfiguration are all possible results of a dog bite attack. In many cases, the victim may develop cynophobia, also known as a fear of dogs, or even post-traumatic stress. Therapy may be necessary to help the bite victim live a normal life in the wake of a dog bite attack.

Dog owners are responsible for damage caused by their dogs

Massachusetts law is very clear about the responsibility of dog owners. Those who keep dogs need to properly train and restrain their animals for the safety of the public. In fact, the state dog bite statute also applies to situations where a dog jumps onto a human and causes injury by knocking the person down.

The only exception to this rule is when the person who got bit was trespassing or committing another crime at the time of the attack. If the victim is under 7 years of age, there is presumption that the victim was not trespassing, which the dog’s owner would need substantial evidence to disprove. Even if the dog had never bitten before, the owner is still liable for all property damage and personal injury losses that the dog causes another person.

In some cases, homeowner’s or rental insurance many cover the medical expenses and property damage that result from a dog bite attack. Other times, however, victims of a dog bite attack may need to seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Whether the dog escaped a fence, was running loose in a park or attacked someone visiting its owner, the victim deserves compensation for the injuries sustained.