Connecticut dog bite law is quite comprehensive. Depending on the facts of each individual case, it might make more sense to sue under the state’s dog bite statute or it might make more sense to sue under the common law. In any case, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the attack (although limited exceptions exist).
The Connecticut Dog Bite Statute
The Connecticut dog bite statute is based on strict liability – unless an exception applies, a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his dog regardless of whether or not he took reasonable steps to ensure that the dog would not bite anyone. This means that a dog bite victim can win a lawsuit without proving that the dog owner was at fault in any way.
The Connecticut dog bite statute includes the following distinctive features:
- Joint and several liability: If a lawsuit verdict is issued against two or more defendants (if, for example, a victim is attacked by a group of dogs with more than one owner), the defendant can demand 100 percent of the amount of a judgment from any one of the defendants. A defendant forced to pay 100 percent can then seek contribution from the other defendants.
- The trespassing exception: Although trespassing by the victim is a valid defense under the Connecticut dog bite statute, some Connecticut courts have ruled the mere trespassing without criminal intentions is not a sufficient defense against a dog bite lawsuit.
- Injury to property: You can also sue for damage that a dog causes to your property, including injuries to your dog if it was attacked by the defendant’s dog.
Third-Party Liability and Negligence Law
The Connecticut dog bite statute doesn’t cover lawsuits against third parties, such as a dog’s keeper or a landlord who allowed a tenant to keep a vicious dog. You can still win a lawsuit, however, on a negligence theory of liability, by showing that the third party failed to meet a duty of care that he owed to you. You might claim, for example, that your landlord should have known that your neighbor’s dog was vicious yet still allowed your neighbor to keep it. Negligence lawsuits are more difficult to win than strict liability lawsuits because you have to prove that the defendant was at fault.
Leash Laws and Negligence Per Se
Although Connecticut law does not absolutely require a dog to be leashed in public, its owner or keeper must keep it under control, whether through the use of a leash or through some other means. If the owner/keeper fails to do so and the dog bites you, you can use the fact that the defendant broke the law by failing to keep the dog under control as evidence of negligence under a negligence per se theory of liability.
It is a crime in Connecticut to keep a dog that becomes a nuisance, regardless of whether or not it bites someone (harassment or even barking at all hours might be enough to establish that the dog is a nuisance). A prosecutor might even pursue criminal charges against the owner of a dog with a known vicious temperament who seriously injures or kills someone.
Quarantine and Other Administrative Action
If a dog bites someone off the owner’s property, the dog must be quarantined for 14 days, and the owner must pay the expenses for the quarantine. In some cases animal control authorities may kill a vicious dog that causes injury or death.
Find a Connecticut dog bite attorney now, if you or a loved one need help.