Injury from Dog Bites and Other Animal Attacks
The CDC estimates that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year. Unfortunately, dog bites and attacks can result in serious injury, requiring extensive medical care and treatment. But determining your legal rights can be complicated. It may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. To make sure that you receive fair compensation, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bites since they have expertise in handling animal attack cases.
CT Dog Bite Laws
Under Connecticut’s dog bite statute 22-357, a dog owner or keeper is responsible for the injuries or property damage caused by the dog. Connecticut’s dog bite statute is considered a “strict liability statute,” which means that legal liability for damages or injury is placed on a party without having to prove negligence or fault. If you are the victim of a dog bite attack, you should know that the dog owner or keeper has the responsibility to keep their dog restrained and under control to avoid harm. However, there are exceptions to strict liability: the owner may not be liable if the dog bite victim was trespassing, or teasing, abusing or tormenting the dog at the time of the attack.
By law, if property damage or injury has occurred by more than one dog at the same time and the dogs have different owners, the owners are then jointly responsible for the damages.
After a dog bite or attack, an Animal Control Officer (ACO) will visit the scene and bring the dog to a public pound, veterinary hospital or kennel, for a 14-day quarantine. During this time in quarantine, the ACO will check to make sure the dog’s rabies vaccination is current and observe the dog’s behavior. If the dog is deemed vicious and a risk to the public, they may recommend having the dog euthanized. If the owner of the dog takes issue with this, they may make a request to the ACO to have a hearing before the city commissioner within 14 days of being notified. The commissioner may then decide to affirm, modify or revoke the order from the ACO. Under statute 22-358, the dog owner is responsible for all the fees associated with the time the dog is quarantined.
Homeowners Insurance in Dog Bite Cases
In Connecticut, liability for a dog bite is typically covered under homeowners’ insurance and renters’ insurance policies. The liability limit is often around $100,000 – $300,000. This likely means that you or a loved one that suffered damages from a dog bite will need to deal with a sophisticated insurance company during a complicated claim process.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney knows how to efficiently present a case to insurance companies and how to skillfully counter the tactics they typically use to undermine your case. An experienced lawyer is often able to settle an injury claim out of court and maximize the settlement amount.
In the event that the dog owner does not have insurance, the victim is still entitled to receive compensation to recover their damages.
Specialized, Experienced Legal Services in Connecticut
We have successfully represented victims of dog bites and other animal attacks. If you’ve been bitten by a dog or another animal, we will offer you a free case evaluation to determine whether you have a valid legal claim, and what damages you may be able to recover. Again, we work on a contingency basis, so there is no cost to you unless we successfully make a recovery.
Depending on how serious your injuries are, you may be entitled to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and/or property damage. In some instances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are awarded to punish someone for reckless or intentionally dangerous behavior.
What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack
Every case is different, but here are a few guidelines that generally apply to dog bites and other animal attacks.
- Step 1: Get medical attention as soon as possible. If left untreated, animal bites can cause serious injury, infection, and even death if the animal has a disease, such as rabies. In addition, obtaining medical help will provide important documentation for your injuries. Keep in mind that it may take several months to completely assess related injuries: Reconstructive surgery or other treatment may be needed, and a victim may be left permanently scarred or disabled even after corrective surgery.
- Step 2: Obtain contact information. Get the pet owner’s name, phone number and address, along with the contact information of any witnesses. If you’re unable to get the owner’s contact information, try asking a neighbor or a witness. In some cases, the legal responsibility for an animal may be on a property owner, a kennel keeper, an animal sitter, a landlord or the parents of a minor. In any of these cases, be sure to get contact information for these people as well.
- Step 3: Avoid arguments. Don’t get emotional or angry with the animal owner or keeper. Avoid arguing and focus on getting treatment for your injuries.
- Step 4: Report the incident. Contact the local animal control agency in your community or the police. Stick to the facts and avoid making any recorded statements that may damage the validity of your claim.
- Step 5: Take notes and photos. Record the time of the accident and any other relevant information. Take photos of your injuries and the exact location where the attack occurred.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call 203-259-5400 or contact us online.