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How does Connecticut handle dog bite cases?

Among all types of pets, dogs are one of the most popular and beloved. While dogs are known for being loyal companions, they can also be fierce protectors and, at times, unpredictable. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, annually, an estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs. Of these dog bite victims, approximately one in five requires medical care for his or her injuries.

Children are especially vulnerable to suffering dog bites and, from 2010 to 2013, 37 percent of dog bit victims were between the ages of five and nine. For anyone, being bit by a dog can be physically and mentally painful. For a child, however, this type of traumatic event can be especially damaging. For a dog owner, it's important to take steps to lessen the chances that a dog will bite. It's also important to understand one's responsibilities and liabilities in the event that one's dog does bite.

Connecticut's dog bite law is what's known as a strict liability statute. This means that, with very few exceptions, a dog's owner is liable for the costs associated with any injuries caused by one's dog. This means that dog bite victims are not required to prove anything with regard to a dog owner's knowledge of the dog being dangerous or with regard to the circumstances that precipitated a dog bite or attack.

It's important to note, however, that a dog’s owner can argue that the bite victim was trespassing or teasing a dog. Historically, however, the Connecticut courts have interpreted trespassing to mean more than simply entering a property uninvited. Additionally, the courts have ruled that children under the age of seven are exempt from both of these exceptions to the strict liability statute.

Source: Connecticut General Assembly, "LIABILITY FOR DOG BITES," James Orlando, Oct. 17, 2012

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