4 things to know about dog bites in Connecticut

Connecticut imposes a strict liability on the owners of dogs who attack and harm another person or that person’s property.

In March of last year, a young Connecticut girl was walking home when a small dog ran through a yard and started biting her ankle. According to the CTPost, a Labrador then charged the girl, biting her on the cheek. In addition to undergoing rabies shots, the girl required stitches and now has a 2-inch scar on her face.

Over the summer of this year, a judge ordered the dog's owner to pay $236,602 to the now-13-year-old girl. The judge noted that the girl often hears unfavorable comments from classmates regarding her scar. People in Connecticut should know the following about dog bites and subsequent lawsuits in Connecticut:

1. Trespassing nullifies a claim

In order to successfully pursue a dog bite claim, a victim must prove that he or she was either on a public place or was lawfully on someone's property. Connecticut law does not protect people who are trespassing, teasing or tormenting a dog. However, the law does assume that children younger than 7 could not commit any of these actions, and a defendant would have to prove otherwise.

2. Proving liability

A dog owner is assumed to be strictly liable for damage in Connecticut. In other words, it is not necessary for a victim to prove that the owner was negligent or knew that the dog was vicious. A victim will only have to prove the following:

  • That he or she was attacked
  • That the attack caused the injuries
  • That he or she was either in a public space or legally allowed on the property where the attack occurred

The victim may also have to prove that the defendant named in a suit is indeed the owner of the animal.

3. Homeowners' insurance

More than one-third of homeowners' insurance claim payouts in 2014 were due to dog bites or related injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Following an attack, a victim can pursue a claim through the dog owner's insurance policy. However, these claims may fall short of the damages actually owed. For example, an owner may not have enough coverage to satisfy all the medical bills.

4. Filing a lawsuit

When homeowners' policies fall short or if a victim wants to ensure maximum compensation, filing a dog bite injury lawsuit may be necessary. Connecticut's statute of limitations gives a victim two years from the date of an incident to file a claim. Failing to file a suit within that timeframe could mean sacrificing the victim's right to compensation.

People who have questions regarding Connecticut's dog bite laws should speak to an attorney.