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Oct 24 2019

Dog Bites - What You Need to Know From a Legal Perspective

By Attorney Matthew Willis / In Litigation

Did you know there are over 4.5 million dog bites a year in the United States?
Did you know that dog bites send more than 1000 people to the emergency room every day?
Did you know Connecticut is one of the top 10 states for number and cost of dog bite claims?
Did you know the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200?

While these statistics are certainly worrisome to dog owners, they should be even more worrisome for those of us that share the bike paths, dog parks, and sidewalks with these pets. Please read on to learn more about what to do if you’ve been bitten by a dog in Connecticut.

What is the law on dog bites in Connecticut? 
Unlike many states, Connecticut imposes strict liability on its dog owners. This means that the owner of a dog does not need to be aware of a dog’s past aggressive behavior, nor does the dog need to have a history of biting, in order to hold the owner responsible for an attack. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. If the victim of an attack was trespassing, teasing, or tormenting the dog, the owner may not be liable for the attack.

What compensation am I entitled to? 
The value of your case and the type of compensation you are entitled to depends on the nature and extent of your injuries. Generally, you are entitled to be compensated for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity, past and future pain and suffering, as well as compensation for any scarring or disfigurement.

What should I do if I am injured by a dog? 
If you have been injured by a dog, it is imperative that you identify the dog’s owner or the person responsible for the dog. Dog injuries are not just limited to bites but include other things such as scratches and being knocked over by a dog. If possible, find out if the animal has a current rabies vacciantion. If you are unable to locate the owner, contact your local animal control officer to assist you. They will come to the scene and work to identify the owner or capture the dog if it is roaming. This will all be important evidence to help you seek compensation for your injuries.

What should I do next? 
It is important to seek medical attention for your injuries, ideally within eight hours, even if the injury seems minor. Dog attacks can cause nerve damage, and puncture wounds can easily become infected. Bites also frequently result in scarring and disfigurement. In some cases, you may need a tetanus shot. Once you have been treated, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.  We will work with your doctor to determine the extent of your injuries and the financial losses you have suffered. Please be aware that there are deadlines that must be met to successfully prosecute your claim.

What Can I Do to Help Prevent a Dog Bite?
1. Always ask if it's okay to touch someone else's dog before reaching out to pet it. 
2. Don't disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or has puppies nearby.
3. If you are approached by a dog that you are unfamiliar with, remain still and be calm. Do not make direct eye contact.
4. If you are knocked down by a dog, curl yourself into a ball with your head tucked in and cover your ears and neck with your hands.


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