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When are Connecticut dog owners liable for dog bite injuries?

The dogs that people in New Haven, and elsewhere, own can serve any number of purposes in the lives of their owners. Whether a guard dog, service animal or family companion, there is the potential that dogs may come into contact with people other than owners and those with whom they reside. Just as it is the responsibility of dog owners to provide food, shelter and other care for their animals, they also have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the people who their animals may encounter.

The state’s rules regarding pet owner liability are established in chapter 435 of the Connecticut General Statutes. Under the statute, dog owners can be held liable for damages when their dog causes bodily injury to another person. This is typically the case whether the dog bite attack happens on the owner’s property or on someone else’s property. In cases when the owner of the dog is a minor, the liability generally falls to his or her parents.

While it is generally the responsibility of dog owners to ensure the safety of those who come into contact with their pets, there are some situations in which they may not be held liable for damages resulting from dog bite injuries. In general, the law stipulates that dog owners are not liable for injuries sustained by people who are trespassing, or committing other crimes, on the owners’ properties. Furthermore, the law does not hold pet owners liable when the person who sustained the injury was abusing, teasing or tormenting the dog prior to the attack.

According to the Connecticut General Assembly, the state’s dog bite law is a strict liability statute. This means that victims do not have to prove that pet owners knew their animals were vicious, or were otherwise negligent, to seek compensation for damages. It may be helpful for those who have been injured in dog attacks to discuss their case with an attorney to understand their options and what they may be entitled to. 

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