Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dog Bite Laws in New Hampshire

Dogs and the Law: A Matter of Owner’s Responsibility
dog bite lawyer in New Hampshire

Along with the joy and companionship that a dog can bring its owner also comes a lot of responsibility, and not just for feeding, watering, and walking the critter.  Generally speaking, the law holds that a dog owner has an absolute duty to keep her pet under control at all times, and that she is responsible for any injuries or damages the dog inflicts. And for good reason, too. Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Control in Pittsburgh recently reported that there are upwards of 4.5 million dog bite incidents each year, and that the victims are frequently children.  Dog bites can be so severe that some 334,000 dog bite victims end up at the local emergency room.  Some dog-bite victims, sadly, die.  The report also stated that male dogs do up to 80% of the biting, and that virtually all of them are unnuetered males.

Accordingly, the law holds, amongst other things, that a dog is allowed to run free only on its owner’s property.  As soon as it steps over the property line, it is then said to be “at large.”  Even while at large, a dog must always be accompanied by its owner or handler.  Also, its owner must be able to see or hear the dog, or have reasonable knowledge of where the dog is at any one particular moment.  Furthermore, the dog’s owner must be able to reasonably control her dog’s conduct at all times.  Also, if your dog is an unspayed female, she must be confined when in heat in such a manner that she will not come into contact with a male dog except for intentional breeding purposes.  In sum, you not only must be with your dog at all times when it is off your property, but you must always have it under your direct control.

Your dog can not continue barking for sustained periods of more than one-half hour during day light, or at anytime after dark, such that it disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.  It is not permitted to growl, snap at, run after or chase a person, whether he is on foot, on a bicycle, or in a motor vehicle.  And, no matter how loveable Fido may be at home, it can not run in a pack, and it can not bite, attack or otherwise prey on domestic or game animals, such as sheep and deer.  Most particularly, it can not bite humans.

A Public Nuisance

If your dog is guilty of any of the above, it can then be found to be a public nuisance.  If the offense is serious, the dog can be impounded or even killed.  For example, if your dog is found to be running at large or to be a public nuisance, you can be ordered by the appropriate law enforcement official to restrain your animal.  If you fail to take appropriate action, your dog can then be impounded by the police of the city or constable of the town in which the violation occurred and held until the matter is settled, usually in court.  Moreover, you can be fined upwards to $50 for the first offense and $100 for the second or subsequent offenses.  You can also be required to pay for the dog’s boarding costs while it was impounded.

Even worse, any conservation officer, state police officer, dog constable, or police officer may kill any dog that is discovered in the act of maiming or in close pursuit of a deer or a moose, a farm animal, or any other domestic animal. Besides suffering the loss of her dog, the owner can then be fined up to $500.  With exceptions, the law also permits any person who, while peaceably walking or riding, is suddenly attacked by a dog to kill it.  Some dog owner’s have found out the hard way that the law also permits a person, such as a farmer, to kill a dog that is found to be worrying, wounding, or killing sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic animals.  Finally, anyone whose property, including sheep, lambs, or other domestic creatures, is injured or killed by a dog is entitled to recover damages from the dog’s owner. If faced with this situation, it is always a good idea to speak with a qualified injury attorney in New Hampshire.

Licensing and Vaccination

A dog owner has other responsibilities as well.  For instance, every dog 3 months old or over must be licensed at the office of the clerk of the city or town in which the dog is kept.  Regardless of when the license is obtained, it is effective from May 1 of each year to April 30 of the subsequent year.  The license must be worn on a collar around its neck, along with its rabies vaccination tag, which is also required.  In fact, the dog can only be licensed upon proof that the dog has been properly vaccinated.

A dog can be impounded if it is found off its owner's premises and not wearing a valid vaccination tag.  Once impounded, it must be kept for a minimum of 7 days unless reclaimed earlier by its owner. To reclaim her impounded dog, she must prove that the dog has already been vaccinated, or else arrange for the vaccination prior to its release.  She must also pay for her dog’s impoundment fees. If the dog is unclaimed at the end of 7 days, it then can be euthanized or placed for adoption.

A Dog Owner’s Strict Liability

The law holds that a dog’s owner is strictly liable for any damage the dog inflicts upon another’s person or property.  Strict liability is a legal term that means the bite victim or property owner whose property is damaged has only to prove that the damage was the result of the dog's vicious or mischievous conduct.  Since the owner is held to be strictly liable, it is not necessarily important that the dog was provoked.  Nonetheless, if someone approaches an otherwise passive dog and hits it on the nose with a stick, thereby provoking the dog to bite him, his own misconduct will certainly be considered in assessing any damages to be paid by the dog's owner.  Absent such outrageous behavior, however, a dog owner is responsible for keeping her dog under control at all time.

Despite its owner’s strict liability for its behavior, the rule is that every dog gets one free bite.  That does not mean that the dog’s owner is free from any liability due to injuries or damages caused by the dog; it only means that, generally speaking, the dog itself is given the benefit of the doubt and not subject to a death sentence. Two or more bites, however, and the dog can be considered vicious, especially if the incidents are less than one year apart.  Once this happens, the dog can be euthanized.

If Bitten by a Dog

If you or your child is bitten by a dog, especially if the bite punctured the skin, you should immediately report the incident, along with the dog’s identify and its owner, to the local animal officer or town clerk.  Once reported, the animal officer or town clerk must notify you within 24 hours whether, according to town records, the dog has been appropriately immunized against rabies.  If not vaccinated, the dog must then be quarantined for no less than ten days to check for rabies.  However, if the dog displays symptoms which indicate a likelihood that it is afflicted with rabies, it will be immediately euthanized and its head sent to the state lab to check for the rabies virus.  Its owner will be responsible for the testing. 

If the dog has a current vaccination, it nonetheless still must be confined by its owner or other responsible person for 10 days, at which time the dog must be examined by a licensed veterinarian. As a practical matter, these rules also apply to cats and ferrets.  The purpose of these rules is to give the bite victim a reasonable chance to be vaccinated for the rabies virus in the event the animal is found to be rabid.  While the vaccination itself may be painful, it certainly is better than the alternative, which is almost always 100% fatal.

Finally, the one major exception to a dog owner’s absolute responsibility for her dog occurs when a trespasser  is bitten by the dog while on its owner’s property.  Depending upon circumstances, the owner may be exempt from any personal liability, especially if the trespasser is there to commit a crime.  However, if the victim is on the owner’s land for a lawful business reason at a reasonable hour of the day, such as the plumber or delivery man, the owner would be strictly liable for any injuries the dog inflicts upon the victim.

By Michael L. Laws, Esq.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

4 Ways You Can Protect Your Finances During a Divorce in NH

Nashua Divorce Attorneys  New Hampshire
Going through a divorce can be tough. Whether it’s just the two of your or children are involved, there is much to discuss before the marriage can be absolved, including finances. It is important to learn how to protect your finances as you go through divorce proceedings in New Hampshire to ensure that you remain financially stable. Below are a few key points to cover so that your finances are taken care of as you end your marriage.
Documentation is Key

A key factor to any divorce is documentation. For the attorney to determine the division of assets it is important to take time to gather documentation involving your assets such as bank statements, financial records, tax papers, etc. Information will need to be provided individually as well as with joint accounts. It is recommended that you gather at least two to five years of statements. This information can be used in your favor if a spouse makes a large purchase before the divorce with a joint account to show that the purchase was made. There are many scenarios in which such information is needed.

Consultation with Divorce Attorney

To keep the divorce proceedings on track and have help with the financial side of the divorce, you should consult with a divorce attorney that is experienced in New Hampshire law. A divorce lawyer knows what financial mistakes to avoid as well as what you need to do to move forward in your financial decisions before the divorce is final. If a financial issue were to arise, you would have an attorney on hand who can help you with your case.

Setting up Individual Accounts

When you are married, it is not uncommon to have joint accounts. As the divorce process takes place, it is important for you to close all accounts that list you and your spouse and set up individual accounts for your finances. This should be done in order to avoid any disputes or problems financially. To protect your credit, open a credit card account in your name to continue to build credit or to begin building credit as you become single.

Credit Score Check

During as well as after the divorce, you want to keep track of your credit score. As joint accounts are closed and changes are made to finances, your credit score might go down. You also want to check your score to ensure that no purchases have been made in your name. Many spouses find that their soon-to-be ex takes out money or makes purchases including the spouses name before the divorce is final due to anger. Remain alert so this does not happen to you.

Divorcees also find that sometimes a creditor makes a mistake due to changes being made during the divorce process. Consider signing up for a credit monitoring program to keep track of your finances and catching any issues along the way.

Overall, you need to take control of your personal finances and consult an attorney on what you should do in your individual divorce case. Stay alert and make the right decisions to ensure your financial future.

By Michael Laws


Thursday, January 19, 2017


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New Surrogacy Laws New Hampshire - Surrogacy Lawyers NH


Surrogacy has been a legal option for the creation of families in New Hampshire for some time. However, the laws surrounding surrogacy have been restrictive and led to New Hampshire having a reputation as a not very “surrogacy friendly” state. Recent changes proposed to the surrogacy laws may change that reputation and make surrogacy a much smoother and obtainable option for those who want but cannot naturally have their own children.


The first major change in surrogacy laws make the process available to many more people. Before, you could only legally pursue surrogacy if the intended parents were married. Now, that distinction doesn’t matter. Single people can now pursue using a surrogate. It also no longer matters if the intended parents are heterosexual or homosexual. Essentially, anyone, married, unmarried, single, gay, or straight, can use the services of a surrogate to have a child.

In the past, it was mandated by law that the egg used in the pregnancy needed to be from the intended mother. This meant male homosexual couples could not pursue surrogacy in any capacity, although female homosexual couples obviously could. A sperm donor could be used however. Now, an egg donor, sperm donor, or even donated embryo can be used in a surrogate pregnancy in New Hampshire.


The new surrogacy laws also allow for the intended parents to be listed on the initial birth certificate right away, rather than waiting to have a birth certificate changed. Reasonable compensation for a surrogates services are still legal. The details are to be outlined in a contract between the surrogate and the couple or parent.

The new laws only apply to gestational surrogates and not the situation that is legally defined as traditional surrogates. A traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate’s egg is used in the pregnancy. A gestational surrogacy is when the egg belongs to the intended mother or a donor.

Legal Representation

Surrogacy can be a complicated and yet highly rewarding experience for all involved. The legal complications that can arise and the individuality of each situation warrant help from an experienced and skilled attorney. It is vital that the surrogacy attorney involved understands the changes to surrogacy laws in New Hampshire. With a comprehensive legal contract in place and a trusted source of advice and information, the journey of using or being a surrogate in New Hampshire can be a successful and a legally sound venture.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Nashua NH’s Law Firm for Personal Injury, Estate Planning

Nashua NH’s Law Firm for Personal Injury - Divorce - Estate Planning & Business Law
Attorneys Laws and Demers, PLLC

Laws and Demers helps the citizens of New Hampshire successfully navigate the legal system and get the justice they deserve. Founded in 2004 by the skilled and dedicated partnership of Michael L. Laws and Mike J. Demers, our firm is located in the heart of Nashua, New Hampshire, and is easily accessible to area courts.

Our Mission

Client Satisfaction is Our Top Priority. We make it our mission to provide up-to-date legal guidance and advice, while fighting to protect the rights of our clients. We also know your legal issues don’t always occur during the typical nine to five work day, or you may not be able to miss work to meet with us about your case. This is why we provide flexible hours and can accommodate clients at night or on weekends. Our goal is to help you get the straight answers you need and the timely resolution you deserve for any and all legal matters you may face.

Laws and Demers focuses on a variety of practice areas including:

    Family law matters
    Personal injury cases
    Estate planning & probate needs
    Real estate and small business legal needs
    Civil litigation needs

Who We Are

We will give you an honest assessment of your situation and dedicate the time necessary to help you get a fair and just outcome. Laws and Demers is the firm you can rely on for timely results and effective representation during what may be a difficult time. Let us give you a consultation and see if our knowledge, experience, and level of commitment to our clients is just what your case needs.

Evening & Weekend Appointments

All Calls Returned Promptly

For Questions or To Schedule a Consultation Please Contact Us at 603-880-2000.