When a dog attacks, who is liable under Connecticut law?

This article looks at Connecticut liability and negligence laws pertaining to dog attacks.

While dogs are often called man's best friends, it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes dogs do bite and inflict serious injuries on innocent victims, especially children. Dog bite injuries can be serious and even fatal, with DogsBite.org noting that between 1982 and 2014 over 2100 people were maimed or killed by pit bulls alone. Connecticut has strict liability laws for dog owners that may allow dog bite victims to bring forward a legal case to recover compensation and damages. Understanding how Connecticut's liability and negligence laws work can help bite victims know what actions to take following their ordeal.

Owner liability

When a dog injures a person or damages another person's property, the owner or keeper of that dog can usually be held liable under Connecticut law. As the website for the Connecticut General Assembly points out, the state's liability statutes are strict and victims need not prove that a dog's owner or keeper knew that the dog was dangerous or that the owner or keeper was otherwise negligent in order for the owner or keeper to be held liable.

There are, however, important exceptions to Connecticut's liability statute. For example, a person who is bitten by a dog while trespassing or committing another tort usually cannot pursue a claim against the dog's owner. Connecticut courts, however, have ruled that simply being on another person's property is not sufficient to be considered trespassing for the sake of a dog bite liability case. Additionally, if the attack victim had been teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog then the dog's owner will typically not be considered liable for the attack. However, any victim who is under seven years of age is presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have neither been trespassing nor provoking the dog that attacked him or her.

Negligence cases

Unlike with a statute case, cases brought under a common law negligence action require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous. Common law negligence cases may be useful for holding certain parties liable for a dog attack even if they were neither the owners nor the keepers of the dog. For example, a landlord can be held negligent if he or she knew or should have known about a tenant's dog's vicious tendencies and failed to warn the other tenants about the animal. Additionally, even if the landlord instructs a tenant to remove a dangerous dog from the property but then fails to ensure that the dog has indeed been removed then the landlord may be held liable through a negligence case.

Dog bite attorney

Anybody who has been the victim of a dog bite in Connecticut should get in touch with a personal injury attorney immediately. As the above article shows, Connecticut has strict liability laws pertaining to dog bites. With the help of an attorney, dog bite victims may be able to recover compensation that can help them cover the expenses that often arise in the aftermath of an attack.