DOG BITES AND OTHER DAMAGES AND THE CONNECTICUT STRICT LIABILITY LAW
Many states, including Connecticut have laws that spell out who is responsible for injuries and damages caused by dogs. The Connecticut law makes the owner or keeper of a dog that causes personal injuries or property damage to the body or property of any person responsible for those injuries and damages. The Statute provides that “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 the amount of such damage…” Because the law imposes “strict liability” on the owner or keeper, there is no need to prove that the dog had a propensity to bite, or any other negligent conduct on the part of the owner or keeper for the injured party to recover damages. There are exceptions to recovery if the injured party was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog. The law further provides that if the injury is to a child under the age of 7, it is presumed that the child was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog.
The damages imposed by the statute are not limited to instances where a bite occurs. Where a dog runs into the road and causes a car, motorcycle or bicycle operator to react and lose control and crash, the owner or keeper of the dog is responsible for the resulting injuries and damages. Similarly, where a dog running in a park or other open area jumps on a person and causes that person to fall and suffer injuries, the injured person can recover damages even though the actions of the dog were playful and not aggressive. On the other hand, if the dog has known aggressive tendencies or a history of biting, punitive damages against the owner or keeper for recklessness can also be recovered. And where the injury is to a minor, his parents have an independent claim against the owner or keeper for any medical expenses that are incurred. The statute also provides that damage to property includes damage to a companion animal, including expense of veterinary care and burial expense, as well as the value of the companion animal.
If the owner or keeper of the dog has homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance coverage, it is very likely that the liability insurer will assume the responsibility of paying for the injuries and damages caused by the dog. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury or damage caused by a dog, you should contact an attorney experienced in these matters for appropriate legal advice as to your rights to recover for the injuries and damages that have been suffered.