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What if your dog attacks someone?

With all of the love and comfort your dog provides to you, it is easy to forget that he or she is still an animal subject to natural instincts. This could potentially make him or her a threat to whoever frequents your home or property in New Haven (no matter how friendly his or her disposition might seem). As his or her owner, you are of course responsible for his or her actions. Yet at what point does that responsibility turn into civil liability

Connecticut's "dog bite law" can be found in Section 22-357 of the state's General Statutes. Here it states that you are only liable for injuries that your dog causes if the following elements in present in any incident that results in an attack: 

  • Your dog did indeed injure a person
  • Said person was on your property with your permission
  • Said person was not teasing, tormenting or otherwise provoking your dog

Many states have adopted what is known as a "one bite rule" in such cases, which essentially absolves dog owners of liability the first time their dogs attack. The logic behind this is that the owner could not have known of the dog's aggressiveness prior to a first attack. Unfortunately, Connecticut does not follow this philosophy. Instead, it applies the "strict liability" standard to dog bite cases, meaning you are liable regardless of whether your dog has bitten someone before. 

While you are not held liable if your dog attacks a trespasser, this standard is not universally applied (the same is true if someone is provoking your dog). Children under the age of 7 are presumed to not know any better, which means any attack on a child under that age (despite the circumstances) could result in you facing a liability claim. 

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