Dogs have the potential to be extremely dangerous when the proper safety precautions are not taken. Were you or your loved one bitten by a dog? It is imperative that you know your rights and your options under the law. Within this article, our Waterbury dog bite lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the dog bite liability laws in Connecticut.
Connecticut Dog Bite Law: Strict Liability
Similar to many but not all U.S. jurisdictions, Connecticut is a strict liability state for dog bites. Under Connecticut Code § 22-357, a dog’s owner is liable for any damage caused by their dog to a person or property. If any dog causes injury to a person or property, the owner or the keeper of the dog shall be held responsible for such damage, except when there is a valid defense under the law. An injured victim does not need to prove negligence. Strict liability holds true whether or not the dog owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies.
Two Exceptions to Strict Liability in Connecticut
While Connecticut law imposes strict liability on dog owners, there are two notable exceptions. Dog owners have the right to raise two affirmative defenses against strict liability in a dog bite claim:
- Trespassing: The strict liability law will not apply if the person who is bitten by the dog was trespassing or committing another civil wrong. Essentially, if the person was unlawfully on the property where the dog is kept, the owner might not be held liable for the injuries caused by the dog.
- Teasing, Tormenting, or Abusing: The second exception is if the injured person was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog. If it is determined that the injured party provoked the dog into attacking through such behavior, then the owner may not be held liable for damages.
Note: If the victim of the dog attack is seven years of age or younger, these defenses presumptively do not apply.
A Dog Bite Victim May Also Have a Common Law Negligence Claim
Beyond a strict liability claim, a dog bite victim may also have the option to pursue a common law negligence claim against the dog’s owner, dog’s keeper, or another negligent party. This means that if the victim can prove that the dog owner was negligent in controlling or securing the dog, and that negligence was a direct cause of the injury, then they may be entitled to additional damages. In some cases, third parties—such as an apartment complex, landlord, or other property owner—may be legally liable for a dog bite attack in Connecticut.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Connecticut Dog Bite Attorney Today
At Etemi Law, our Connecticut dog bite lawyers are justice-focused advocates for victims and families. Bitten by a dog? We are more than ready to help. Contact us today for a free, no obligation review of your case. With law offices in Waterbury and Watertown, we handle dog bite injury cases throughout Connecticut, including in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.