Issues in CT Dog Bite Cases and What To Do

A Surprising Liability Twist in Dog Attack Cases and Who May Be Responsible For The Damages

It has been reported that each day over 1,000 people in this country require emergency medical treatment for injuries due to a dog bite or animal attack. This problem recently became front page news when a Ridgefield resident and his dog were both attacked by another dog near the recreation center.

People bitten or attacked by dogs who seek the services of a personal injury lawyer want answers to a number of standard questions. Connecticut has a variety of laws that deal with problem dogs that address several distinctive classifications of cases.

First, the owner or keeper of a dog that bites, attacks, or causes damage to a person’s body or property, with limited exceptions, is strictly liable to the injured party. The notable exceptions include a trespasser or someone teasing, abusing or tormenting the dog. The law requires the animal control officer, in the town in which the attack occurred, to quarantine a dog that has attacked someone, off the owner’s property, for 14 days. A dog may be quarantined in the owner’s home if the dog bite occurred on the owner’s property.

Anyone who is attacked by a dog, off the owner’s or keeper’s property, may kill the animal during the attack without incurring any civil or criminal liability. The victim must report this incident to the animal control officer in the town where the attack occurred.

Generally, the homeowner’s insurance policy, of the owner or keeper of the offending dog, will provide coverage for the damages and injuries resulting from an actionable animal attack. One potential problem is what happens if the dog owner or keeper is a tenant with no insurance and/or assets to compensate the injured party and what liability, if any, does the tenant’s landlord have for any of these damages?

The Connecticut Appellate Court recently decided Giacola v. Housing Authority of the Town of Wallingford (2010) citing the Connecticut Supreme Court case of Auster v. Norwalk United Methodist Church (2008) which held that a landlord could be liable to a dog bite victim under a common law negligence theory for failing to take responsible precautions to protect against their tenant’s attacking dog.

These cases are fact specific, but if you are a landlord and you allow or know that your tenant has a dog on your property you may be liable, under certain circumstances, for any damages and injuries resulting from your tenant’s dog biting or attacking a third party. It is therefore important that you consult with your lawyer and/or insurance agent if you have a tenant that owns or keeps a dog on your rental property.

Other laws governing dogs include a prohibition in allowing someone’s dog to roam on to another person’s property and preventing anyone from owning or harboring a dog, which is a nuisance because of a vicious disposition, excessive barking or other disturbances.

If you or someone you love was the victim of a dog bite injury, you can obtain valuable information from our free ebook. You may have many questions on what to do next. It is best to speak with a Connecticut Personal Injury Attorney who specializes in CT dog bite injury cases, to make sure your rights are protected. Contact our experienced team at 888-244-5480 for a free consultation today.