What Are the Grounds for a Dog Bite Lawsuit?


Every day, approximately 1,000 people visit the emergency room for dog bite-related injuries in the US. Dog attacks can happen fast, without warning. Often, victims are left with thousands of dollars in medical bills and other losses. Unfortunately, many victims of dog bites do not know their legal rights and end up paying the cost of their damages out-of-pocket.

Dog bite laws in Connecticut allow some people who have been injured in a dog attack to sue for damages. So, if you have been harmed by a dog, you may have the grounds for a dog bite lawsuit.

Connecticut follows a “strict liability statute” when it comes to dog bite cases. If you are pursuing compensation for a dog bite, you likely want fast and fair results. Our legal team can help. In this article, we will discuss that statute and how it affects those who are thinking about filing a dog bite lawsuit.

Connecticut’s Dog Bite Law

For good reason, dog bite laws in Connecticut are fairly strict. Dog bites, even seemingly minor ones, can result in injuries that may lead to infections and other serious complications.

Under Connecticut’s strict liability dog bite statute, the victim does not need to prove that the owner or keeper of the dog knew it was vicious or was otherwise negligent.

A dog’s owner is strictly liable for most injuries if:

  • A person or property was harmed by the dog
  • The dog bite victim was not trespassing
  • The victim was not teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog

Elements of a Successful Dog Bite Lawsuit

The strict liability dog bite law relieves victims from needing to provide proof of negligence. However, you will still need to take steps fast to prove you have legitimate grounds to file a dog bite claim.

The following elements are the basis for a successful dog bite lawsuit in a strict liability state:

  • Proof the dog belonged to the defendant
  • Proof the dog attack caused your injuries
  • Proof you suffered injuries as a direct result of the dog attack

In some situations, gathering proof of who owns the dog is straightforward, such as when you are lawfully on someone else’s property. However, in other situations, such as when a dog was running loose in the park, it could be more difficult to find the owner of the dog.

It is important to act fast to collect evidence following a dog bite. A dog bite lawyer may be able to help gather the evidence needed to build a solid case for you.

Situations When a Dog Owner May Not Be Liable for Injuries

Connecticut’s strict liability dog bite statute provides the following two defenses to a dog bite claim.

The dog was provoked

A dog’s owner will not be liable for injuries if it can be proven that the injured person teased, tormented, or abused the animal. Since provocation can come in different forms, your dog bite lawyer will act fast to build a defense based on the particulars of your case.

The injured party was trespassing

Generally, the law defines a trespasser as someone who is on a person’s property without permission or without a legal duty that requires him or her to be on the property. If a person was illegally trespassing at the time of the animal attack, the dog’s owner may not be held liable.

What Is the “One Bite” Rule?

While Connecticut follows a strict liability dog bite statute, other states abide by a “one bite” rule. Typically, under the one-bite rule, dog owners are only held liable for injuries caused by their animals if the dog owner knows that their dog has a history or propensity towards being vicious.

Some situations where the “one bite” law may apply are:

    • The dog has bitten someone previously: There would need to be proof that the dog owner knew that his or her animal had bitten someone before.
  • The dog displayed prior frightening behavior: Proof that the animal barks viciously or chases people to the point of scaring them.
  • The dog has been trained to fight: A court will likely hold a dog owner liable for injuries if the dog has been trained to fight, since the owner is obviously aware the dog is violent.
  • There have been prior complaints: Neighbors or others have reported complaints about the dog’s vicious behavior.
  • The dog jumps on people: If the owner of the dog knows the animal has a tendency to jump on people, the owner has a responsibility to keep the dog from knocking people over.

A dog bite attack can happen fast and leave you with life-altering injuries. An experienced dog bite lawyer can let you know if the “one bite” law applies to your situation.

Step to Take When Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Dog bite attacks can leave victims physically and emotionally scarred. Sadly, many dog bite victims are children and the elderly.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a dog attack, here are some steps you can take to strengthen your chances of winning your claim or lawsuit:

  • Seek medical attention: Your top priority should be getting medical treatment for your injuries. Seeking medical care also provides a record of your injuries that is beneficial when you go to file a claim.
  • Exchange contact information with the dog owner: Be sure to get the phone number and address of the owner of the dog. The dog’s owner should know you plan on holding him or her responsible for your injuries.
  • Photograph your injuries: This provides a visual record of the severity of your injuries that can be used as evidence of the dog attack.
  • Report the dog bite: You should file a dog bite report with the local authorities. In Connecticut, dog bites can be reported to the local animal control center or police department.
  • Keep thorough records: Document the impact your injuries have had on your work, social life, mental health, and emotional well-being. Also, keep a record of all medical bills and expenses incurred as a result of your injuries.
  • Act fast to contact a dog bite attorney: Take fast action to contact a lawyer after being harmed in an animal attack. An attorney will be able to help you through every aspect of filing a dog bite claim or lawsuit.

Will the Insurance Company Cover Your Dog Bite Claim?

After being injured from a dog bite, you may be wondering who will cover the costs of your injuries and losses. In some cases, a dog’s owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will cover dog bites. This means that you can file a claim with the insurance company.

Unfortunately, renters and homeowner’s insurance companies do not usually make the claims process easy.

Insurance companies may use tactics such as:

  • Calling you and trying to trick you into saying something that can be used as an admission of fault
  • Downplaying the severity of your injuries
  • Pressuring you into accepting a fast and low settlement offer
  • Trying to convince you not to hire a personal injury lawyer

Insurance adjusters will do all they can to avoid the payout of your claim. When you have a lawyer on your side, he or she will act fast to protect your rights.

A Lawyer Can Help You File a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Your best chance for recovering compensation after a dog bite injury is to hire a personal injury lawyer. A fast-working and experienced lawyer from our law firm can explain your legal rights and options.

The insurance company is more likely to take you seriously if you have an attorney representing your case. It will let the insurer know that you are not going to settle for less than you deserve.

A lawyer can help your dog bite case by:

  • Investigating the dog’s history of aggressiveness and attacks
  • Proving the dog owner knew of the dog’s tendency towards viciousness
  • Gathering evidence such as surveillance camera footage from businesses in the area that may have caught the dog bite attack on video
  • Collecting statements from eyewitnesses
  • Handling all communication and negotiation with the insurance company

How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

It can take a while to recover from your injuries and get back on your feet after a dog bite. Even after your physical injuries heal, the emotional trauma of your attack can stand between you and the life you once knew.

While it may be difficult to think about filing a dog bite claim or lawsuit with all you have going on following the attack, you cannot hesitate to assert your right to compensation. It is imperative to take fast action. If you wait too long, you will miss out on the money you deserve.

How long you have to file a dog bite lawsuit depends on the specific laws in your state. In Connecticut, the statute of limitations on dog bite lawsuits is 2 years. This means victims have 2 years from the date of the attack to file a dog bite case.

Failure to file within the statute of limitations can result in your case being dismissed by the court and in you paying for your damages out of pocket. The best thing you can do is take fast steps to contact a dog bite lawyer as quickly as possible after your attack.

Damages Awarded in a Dog Bite Lawsuit

The compensation awarded in dog bite cases depends on the extent of injuries sustained by the victims. A person who has been the victim of a vicious attack will likely recover more damages than a person who has sustained a minor injury. A dog bite lawyer can help you calculate the value of your claim.

Types of compensation awarded to dog bite victims may be:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage (torn clothing, broken phone, etc.)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Mental anguish

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Dog Bite Attorney Today

It is important for dog bite victims to take fast action to contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in handling animal attack cases. Strict liability dog bite claims are not always straightforward. An attorney can help you navigate the complex laws surrounding dog attacks and help you recover monetary compensation.

The fast and experienced attorneys at Gould Injury Law have extensive experience handling dog bite cases in Connecticut. We are knowledgeable in what the legal grounds are for a dog bite lawsuit. Our legal team can review your case and let you know if you have a valid claim for compensation.

Call our law firm at (888) WIN-FAST or complete the online form to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take your call.