The American Veterinary Medicine Association estimates that more than 63 million households in the United States own a dog. Dogs can be beloved pets, and working dogs provide a valuable service to farmers, law enforcement, the disabled community, and others. Unfortunately, dog bites are responsible for nearly 800,000 emergency room visits every year. The effects of a severe bite can be permanent and life-altering.
People who have been bitten by a dog could seek restitution for their injuries with the help of a dependable personal injury attorney. Consult a Windsor dog bite lawyer right away to evaluate your options to hold the dog’s owner accountable.
Strict Liability in Dog Bites
Connecticut General Statute § 22-357 makes dog owners strictly liable for injuries their dog causes. The owner does not need to have knowledge that the dog has aggressive tendencies for an injured person to collect damages. A dog’s owner could be liable even if it is their dog’s first bite.
The law covers not just bites, but any damage a dog causes to persons or property. People who have been injured when a dog scratches them or knocks them down could seek compensation from the dog’s owner, even if the injuries resulted from friendly exuberance and not an attack. The same is true for any property damage the animal causes. A consultation with a South Windsor canine bite lawyer could clarify whether seeking money damages might be appropriate in a given situation.
The law’s protection does not extend to trespassers, who cannot seek relief for injuries sustained while trespassing. However, the law assumes that children under the age of seven are not trespassing. If a young child wanders onto someone else’s property and suffers a dog attack, the child’s parents could hold the dog’s owner responsible even if the child did not have permission to be on the property.
How Does the Negligence Theory Apply to Dog Bites?
Sometimes it is preferable to pursue damages for injuries inflicted by a dog under a negligence theory, rather than under the statute. This might happen if an injured individual wanted to hold someone other than the dog’s owner responsible for their injuries. For example, a Connecticut court has held a landlord responsible for injuries if the landlord knew the tenant’s dog was aggressive and did not take adequate steps to protect other tenants.
In contrast to a strict liability claim, the injured person in a negligence action must prove that the owner, handler, or other responsible person knew the dog was aggressive and did not take steps to protect others from the danger. The injured person must also establish that the dog caused their injuries.
If the injured person had some responsibility for the incident, they could still seek damages through a negligence action. However, any award of damages they receive will be adjusted to reflect their degree of fault. A local dog bite attorney could advise a plaintiff about whether a court is likely to decide that they bear some blame for their injuries.
Damages Available for Dog Bite Injuries
The damages available to a plaintiff are the same whether they pursue it under the statute or through a negligence claim. A skillful lawyer could help them calculate the full extent of their losses and help to ensure that any settlement is adequate.
A typical damages award might include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages (including a parent’s lost wages if they had to take time off to care for their child), and mental health treatment that might be necessary as a result of the bite. In addition, intangible losses can be sought, such as pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship.
Secure Relief with a Windsor Dog Bite Attorney
If a dog has injured someone in your household, it would be wise to contact a legal professional right away. Do not try to handle settlements on your own. Getting appropriate compensation for injuries is a complex process that requires legal knowledge and negotiation skills. Work with a Windsor or South Windsor dog bite lawyer to recoup your losses after sustaining an injury. Call now to discuss your case.