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New Haven, Connecticut | Weber & Rubano Law Firm

What Happens If a Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

April 20, 2023Articles

Connecticut takes dog bites seriously. While some states allow a dog a single biting incident before holding the owner liable, Connecticut holds owners accountable even for a first-time biter. Unlike states that assert that an owner couldn’t know their dog was capable of attacking if the dog has no previous history of biting, Connecticut dog owners take on responsibility for their pet’s actions the moment they buy or adopt a dog under the state’s strict liability dog bite law. But is an owner still liable if their dog bites someone on their own property? Both property owners and guests in Connecticut may need to understand the state’s laws for dog bite injuries that occur on private property.

Am I Still Liable If a Dog Bites Someone on My Own Property?

According to premises liability law in Connecticut, property owners must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury to visitors to their property, including uninvited guests like post office employees, delivery personnel, salespeople, or children under age 7. This law also protects visitors and guests who sustain injuries from a dog. When a property owner fails in their reasonable duty of care to prevent injury to others by allowing a pet to cause harm, they must pay for damages. This compensation is typically paid out through their property owner’s liability insurance. This law applies to other injuries such as scratches, or injuries caused by a dog knocking a person down as well as to dog bites.

Proving Liability for Dog Bites in Connecticut

Proving liability on the part of a dog owner when a pet bites a visitor, guest, or any individual on a property for legitimate reasons means showing the following legal points of liability that are much the same as any premises liability law:

  • That the owner had a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to keep visitors on their property safe from harm, including dog bites
  • That they breached this duty by acting negligently
  • That the breach of reasonable care directly caused an injury
  • That the injury victim suffered real economic and non-economic damages from the injury.

Once a personal injury lawyer investigates the circumstances and shows clear liability on behalf of the dog owner, they can craft a compelling case for compensation and send a demand letter to the dog owner and their insurance company. In most cases, an experienced personal injury attorney is also prepared to take the matter into courtroom litigation if the insurance company doesn’t offer an appropriate settlement amount.

What Happens If a Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

Exceptions to Connecticut’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws

While the state holds dog owners liable for dog attacks in most circumstances even when the attack occurs on the dog owner’s property, in some circumstances, the state protects the property owner through the following exceptions:

  • When the injury victim was engaged in unlawful actions on the property, such as trespassing or committing a crime
  • If the bite victim was intentionally inciting, teasing, or tormenting the dog

It’s important to note that not all uninvited guests are legally considered trespassers. For instance, children under age 7 are not trespassers under the law, nor are delivery people, salespeople, neighbors, religious solicitors, or others engaged in legitimate business who approach a home’s front door or walkway. This part of a household is known as the property’s curtilage in legal matters. Further, the court presumes that dog bite victims under age seven are not responsible even if they incited or teased the dog.

While these important exceptions offer dog owners some protection from liability, ultimately, an owner is responsible for any harmful incidents caused by their pet. Attack victims are not liable for damages even if they kill the dog during self-defense measures.