Dog bites can be serious injuries. While it may seem like you have no recourse because an animal injured you, Connecticut allows for recovery against the dog’s owner. If you have questions about a dog bite, contact former prosecutor Alexander H. Schwartz for a free consultation.
Our state requires a dog to be quarantined for 14 days after it has bitten someone. According to the Connecticut General Assembly, this is not just “to assure the animal does not have rabies,” it’s to “examine the dog’s demeanor.” If you have been bitten by a dog, you must report the bite to an Animal Control Division office, so the incident can be investigated.
Connecticut has a strict liability statute for dog bites that injure a person or damage property. NOLO points out that “property” includes other pets or companion animals. Strict liability means that you do not need to prove, for example, that the owner knew the dog was vicious. In states that do not have strict liability statutes for dog bites, a victim is likely to have to prove that the owner knew the dog was aggressive.
Under the theory of common law negligence, you may be able to bring claims against people other than the dog’s owner if they knew that the dog was likely to bite (e.g., it was vicious) and did not take steps to prevent a dog bite. Examples of third parties who may be held liable include landlords, kennel owners, parents of minors, and property owners.
The state also has criminal laws to protect against dog bites. Keeping a dog that is known to be vicious, “habitually goes out on a highway and growls, bites, snaps at, or otherwise annoys,” or is dangerous and causes severe injury or death are all crimes in Connecticut.
Connecticut has a strict liability statute for dog bites “unless the damage was sustained while the person was committing a trespass or other tort or was teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog,” explains the Connecticut General Assembly. These defenses are commonly known as the provocation defense and the trespassing defense. But they generally do not apply to dog bite victims under age 7.
To successfully assert a provocation defense, the owner must show the aforementioned teasing, abusing, or tormenting. This defense is a fact-intensive defense. The trespass defense means that the victim was on someone else’s property without permission when the bite occurred. Connecticut case law says that the dog must have been provoked “to action to protect its owner’s property or family.” Thus, mere trespass is unlikely to be a successful defense in a dog bite case.
Note that you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the dog bite. Otherwise, your claims will be time-barred, and you will not be able to sue.
If a dog bit you in Southport, Connecticut, and caused a serious injury, contact the Law Offices of Alexander H. Schwartz today for a free consultation. Alex is a former prosecutor and will put his decades of trial experience to work to help you recover medical bills and other damages.
I had Alex in a very messy divorce. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but he explained to me why I couldn’t have it all. He explained every decision I had to make so when it was over I understood how I got where I am. His fees were lots less than many of my friends paid for their divorces and I’m really happy with how quickly he answered emails and text messages.
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