How can I protect my child against a dog bite in Connecticut?

Connecticut imposes strict liability on the owners of dogs that bite. Parents should teach children basic safety around animals.

Every year, dogs bite about 4.5 million people across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Connecticut, parents should be especially mindful of this happening to children. Little ones often have a curiosity about animals that can lead to trouble, especially because children may not understand the risk involved in interacting with dogs.

Children are best protected when they understand how to safely be around dogs. Further, parents should know what to do if and when an attack occurs.

Basic safety points

The Connecticut Humane Society states that more dog bites happen in children than any other age group, that these events typically happen with dogs that children know, and that children are more likely to suffer severe injuries. With that in mind, parents should teach their children the following:

  • Do not interfere with a dog that is eating, sleeping or nursing puppies.
  • Do not approach animals unless the owner gives consent.
  • Do not run away from a dog; instead, stand still until the dog loses interest.
  • Do not pull on a dog's ears, tails, paws or fur.

Children should never try to reach through a fence to pet an animal. Instead, they should learn how to ask the dog's owner for permission to pet or interact with a dog. Lastly, children should not be left unsupervised around dogs.

Connecticut's laws

Under Connecticut law, dog owners are strictly liable for the damage that a bite or attack may cause. In other words, it does not matter if the owner was negligent or not; if someone suffers an injury or a fatal dog attack, the owner will be responsible.

There are some important caveats to this law. The first is that if the alleged victim tormented, teased, abused or otherwise harassed the dog prior to the attack, the owner may not be held liable. Additionally, people who are trespassing and attacked are not covered by the law.

When it comes to children, however, the law is slightly more flexible. It states that a defendant in a dog bite lawsuit would have to prove that a child younger than 7 was teasing a dog or intentionally trespassing. Otherwise, the law assumes that someone of that age does not have the capacity to recognize his or her behaviors.

Filing a claim

When an attack does happen, victims or their families are permitted to seek compensation through filing a lawsuit. In Connecticut, these claims must be filed within two years of the incident, per the statute of limitations. A successful lawsuit can recover compensation necessary for medical bills, reconstructive surgery, emotional distress and other damages.

People who have questions regarding this issue should contact a personal injury attorney in Connecticut.