Beebe and O'Neil

Liability in dog bite cases

Dog owners in Connecticut should keep a close eye on their dogs, as the state has strict liability laws regarding injuries caused by these animals. Unlike some states, it does not matter whether the owner knows the dog is vicious or not, if they attack and harm another being the owner is responsible for any of the subsequent damage. 

FindLaw reports the exception to this liability statute is in cases of trespassing or tormenting. If anyone seven years old or older purposely taunts a dog or makes a move that can be seen as threatening to the property or family, the dog's owner can use this as a defense and may be found to be not guilty for any harm done. 

Under the negligence theory, someone other than the owner, such as a dog walker or landlord, can be found liable if the victim can prove they were aware the dog had vicious tendencies and nothing was done to lessen the danger. In cases that involve multiple dogs, each owner is held equally responsible for any injuries incurred.

Because of these laws, the Insurance Information institute recommends all dog owners have adequate renters and homeowners insurance, which is what is used to cover liability claims. Because insurance companies paid out over $600 million in 2016 due to dog bite claims, some are putting limits on this type of insurance. For dogs seen as higher risk, an insurer may charge a higher premium, exclude coverage for the dog or refuse to renew the policy. Some insurers will cover a dog if it has been through a behavior modification class.  


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