Hartford Dog Bites: The Basics

You're headed home after an intense ballet barre workout (all the craze these days). As your driving along, still high on endorphins from all the intense, isometric legwork you did, you see a beautiful Shar Pei wandering around by himself.

He definitely has tags around his neck. That's a good sign. Maybe he got out of his yard? You stop to try and corral him into your car, hoping to bring him to the nearby police station. He's seems friendly enough, tail wagging, tongue out, but then something changes. As you reach for his collar, his eyes turn and he bites your arm hard. Everything is a blur after that. You remember being at the Hartford Hospital, but that's about it.

Hartford dog owners are responsible for keeping their animals under control. In most cases, if a dog attacks another person, the owner is legally responsible for that attack. Read on to learn more about the law surrounding dog bites in Hartford.

Connecticut Dog Bite law

In Connecticut, the state law is found in the Section 22-357. Read it for yourself or check out the relevant language here:

"Damage to person or property. If any dog does any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or, if the owner or keeper is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, except when such damage has been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog."

Ok, the bottom line -- if you own or have custody of a dog, you are strictly liable for any injuries your pooch causes to another person.

What if My Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before?

Totally irrelevant. An owner doesn't have to be aware of any dangerous tendencies on their dog's part in order to be held liable for injuries under the law. The owner is strictly liable for every injury the dog causes another person, unless the other person was trespassing, provoking the dog, or both.

What If My Dog Doesn't Bite Someone, But Just Knocks Them Over?

Your furry friend doesn't actually have to "bite" someone, for you to be on the hook. Let's say your big yellow Labrador named Marley likes to leap onto visitors. If Marley jumps up onto your Aunt Charlene who is visiting from Poughkeepsie and causes her to fall and break her femur, you're are strictly liable (this assumes she wasn't abusing, taunting, or teasing your dog).

Give me an Example of Abusing, Taunting, or Tormenting a Dog?

Some examples of abusing/taunting/tormenting a dog can be pulling his tail, hitting him in an aggressive manner, or unnecessarily scaring him while sleeping or eating.

Keep in mind, provocation can be completely accidental. You don't have to intend to anger the dog. If your act would have caused a regular dog to bite, then it could be considered provocation under Connecticut law, barring your claim. If you accidentally step on a dog's tail and he bites you, the courts consider that adequate provocation.

How Can a Person "Lawfully" Be on Someone's Property?

Let's say you invite Aunt Charlene from Poughkeepsie to spend the night, much to the consternation of your boyfriend. She would be considered "lawfully" on the property and can likely recover for injuries your dog causes her, within the limitations discussed above. This extends to friends, family, social guests, contractors, postal employees, utility workers, newspaper carriers, and anyone else invited onto the property.

On the other hand, if Aunt Charlene shows up uninvited in the middle of the night and you have a retraining order against her, then she's committing a crime (like trespassing), and she likely won't be able to recover. Certainly, if a dog bites you while breaking and entering into a someone else's home, you can't recover.

Is There a Time Limit to Pursue My Dog Bite Case?

Yes, as a victim you have three years from the date of the dog bite to file a lawsuit. If you don't, you won't be able to pursue your lawsuit.

What If Two People Own a Dog that Bit Me?

If more than one person, such as a husband and wife, owns a dog, then both owners are jointly and severally liable. Either joint-owner can be required to pay the total cost of compensation to any victims.

Steps to Take If I Am Bitten By A Dog

First, make sure you receive prompt medical attention. Call 911 if necessary. Next, identify the dog's owner and if the dog has rabies. It's the owner's responsibility to contact Animal Control and then take the dog to a veterinarian within 24 hours of the biting incident to begin a 14-day observation period for rabies. If the dog's rabies shots are current, the dog may stay confined at the owner's house and then be returned to the veterinarian on the 14th day.

However, if the rabies shots have expired, the dog must be confined under the observation of the veterinarian for 14 days. The owner has to foot the bill for all of this -- housing, care and treatment of the dog during this period.

What Compensation Can A Victim Recover?

In a lawsuit, compensation for your injuries is known as damages. If a dog bites you, you can sue for such damages as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages

If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury because of a dog bite or attack, consider speak to animal bite attorney and learn more about what your options are in Hartford.

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