Are Owners Liable for Unprovoked Dog Attacks?

Posted On April 19, 2021 Dog Bites
Is the Owner Liable for an Unprovoked Dog Attack? | The Flood Law Firm

With proper training and the right owners, most dogs are docile and non-aggressive. However, the animal instinct can emerge when dogs feel threatened, scared, or sense danger to their territory or family.

Liability in a dog bite claim can be a complex issue. The dog’s owner may claim that you provoked the dog into biting or attacking you.

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a dog attack, a Connecticut dog bite attorney can review your case and discuss your options for recovering compensation. Contact The Flood Law Firm for a free consultation.

When Is the Owner Liable for a Dog Bite?

Connecticut has implemented a strict liability standard in dog bite claims. Except in certain circumstances, dog owners are legally responsible for injuries caused by their dogs regardless of whether the animal previously demonstrated aggressive behavior. Other states employ a different standard – the “one-bite rule” – that bars recovery unless the owner knew or should have known that the dog was vicious and failed to prevent the attack.

Under the strict liability standard, you have to prove that the owner’s dog caused your injuries. However, unlike with most personal injury claims, you do not have to prove that the owner was negligent in order to recover damages.

Strict liability does not mean that you are automatically entitled to compensation for a dog bite. Connecticut provides dog owners with several defenses to these claims.

Owners can dispute liability for a dog bite if the plaintiff was trespassing on their property. They can also argue that the attack was provoked.

What Is a Provoked Dog Attack?

The Connecticut dog bite law states that the owner or keeper of a dog is not liable for injuries and damages sustained by someone who is “teasing, tormenting or abusing” the dog. In these situations, the owner can argue that the attack was provoked by the plaintiff.

A variety of actions can provoke a dog into biting. Some, such as pulling on the dog’s tail or repeatedly offering a treat and then yanking it away, are intentional and may constitute teasing or tormenting the dog. Other actions, however, are unintentional, such as accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail or paw. Nevertheless, the dog may bite because it is startled or in pain.

In the latter scenario, the person who gets bitten can hardly be considered responsible for “provoking” the attack. However, the owner may still try to claim that the dog was provoked – usually in an effort to avoid liability for injuries.

Proving Liability for Unprovoked Dog Attacks

Dog bites are generally covered by homeowners and renters insurance. However, as with any claim where insurance companies are involved, you may face difficulties recovering the damages you are owed.

One of the most common strategies employed by insurers in dog bite claims is to argue that the claimant is responsible for his or her own injuries. With this in mind, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible for assistance building your claim.

Witness testimony is often crucial for proving that the dog attack was unprovoked. If anyone saw the dog bite you, it is important for your lawyer to speak with each witness to get their recollections of the event.

You will also need evidence to support your claim for compensation. A dog bite attorney can obtain your medical records and consult expert witnesses to determine how the injuries from the attack may affect you long-term.

Dog bites can be expensive to treat. They may result in scarring and disfigurement, as well as disability that can impact your ability to work and your quality and enjoyment of life. Children who are bitten by dogs are at a particularly high risk of serious injury. The attack may leave scars that alter the child’s appearance for the rest of his or her life, as well as lead to physical impairment and emotional distress.

Dog bite victims and their families should not have to bear these hardships by themselves. Connecticut law ensures a right to recovery of damages for unprovoked dog attacks, and it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Contact a Connecticut Dog Bite Attorney Today

As you can see, liability in dog bite claims is not always straightforward. Insurance carriers often deny claims when they believe they can argue that the dog was provoked.

Each team member at The Flood Law Firm is committed to helping clients overcome the obstacles put in place by insurance companies. Insurers know that we fight hard on our clients’ behalf. Our reputation for taking cases to trial and winning enables us to negotiate settlements for more money, as well as pursue awards in court if it means getting clients the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

When you contact The Flood Law Firm, you will speak directly to an attorney. Your case will be handled by a dedicated and professional team who works tirelessly toward a favorable result while you focus on recovery.

For a free consultation, please call The Flood Law Firm at (860) 346-2695 today. Our dog bite attorneys serve clients throughout Connecticut from our offices in Middletown, Danbury, Waterbury, and Bridgeport.

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