Getting attacked by a dog can leave you with painful injuries and disfiguring scars and put you at risk of serious illnesses like rabies. Children can be especially vulnerable to major harm from a large, aggressive dog. The physical and emotional effects can last for years.
Dog bite cases are unique in that you cannot get financial compensation from the one that caused the harm. Instead, you potentially can sue the dog’s owner — and perhaps other parties.
Two types of dog bite lawsuits in Hartford
In Connecticut, dog bite victims have two routes for seeking compensation for their injuries. Under the state’s dog bite statute, a dog owner or keeper is liable for injuries that the dog causes somebody else unless the victim was trespassing or committing some other tort, or was teasing, abusing or tormenting the dog. The latter exception does not apply when the person is under age 7.
The other option is to sue under common law, which is the unwritten legal tradition used in the U.S. with roots in British law. Under the common law rule, a victim can sue the dog’s owner as well as third parties that indirectly contributed to the attack. For example, the landlord of an apartment building was found liable for a tenant’s injuries caused by a neighbor’s dog because the landlord knew the dog was dangerous, had ordered it removed from the building, but failed to take reasonable steps to enforce that order.
While suing under common law opens up the number of potential sources of compensation, it can also be more challenging. You must prove that the defendant knew (or reasonably should have known) that the dog was vicious. This does not apply when suing the dog’s owner or keep under the statute.
Which way should I go?
Which route you should take depends on the details of what happened to you. Discussing it with a personal injury attorney can help you decide which type of suit would give you the best chance at compensation.