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11 Common Questions about Dog Bite Claims Answered by Connecticut Legal Experts

Dog bite incidents can often be traumatic experiences with significant physical, emotional, and financial consequences. Navigating through the aftermath can be as taxing as the event itself, particularly when understanding the laws and regulations governing such incidents. In Connecticut, these laws have their unique characteristics, further adding to the complexities involved in dog bite claims. These questions encompass everything from a fundamental understanding of liability to the practicalities of filing claims and negotiating with insurance companies.
To shed light on these complexities and offer clarity, we have gathered and responded to some of the most common queries in our practice. By doing so, you should be better equipped with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the upcoming legal journey. 
1. What Legal Options Do I Have if a Dog Bites Me in Connecticut?
Connecticut operates under the “strict liability” rule regarding dog bites. According to this principle, the dog’s owner is liable for any injuries or losses caused by their pet, regardless of prior knowledge of its vicious tendencies. You have the right to file a lawsuit against the owner for damages that can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 
To do so, seeking the assistance of a Bridgeport personal injury lawyer will be highly beneficial. They can better guide you through the legal process and offer support. 
2. How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in Connecticut?
Connecticut law allows you to file a lawsuit two years from the date of the dog bite. This timeline, known as the statute of limitations, is crucial, as the court may automatically dismiss any claim filed after this period.
3. What if I was Partially at Fault for the Incident?
Connecticut follows the modified comparative fault rule in personal injury cases. In instances where the victim is found to be partially responsible, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. However, if their degree of fault exceeds 50%, they may be unable to recover damages.
4. What Must I Prove to Win a Dog Bite Claim in Connecticut?
For a successful claim in Connecticut, you typically need to prove two key factors: The defendant is the owner or keeper of the dog, and the dog caused you harm. Notably, Connecticut is unique as it does not necessitate demonstrating the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness.
5. What Happens if the Dog Owner is a Renter? Who is Liable, Then?
Usually, the dog owner is responsible for any damage caused by their pet. However, if a landlord knew that a renter’s dog was dangerous and failed to take appropriate action, the landlord might also be liable.
6. Can I Sue If the Dog Did Not Bite Me But Caused Injury?
Yes. The Connecticut dog bite statute covers any damage caused by a dog, not just bites. For example, if a dog knocks you over, causing injury, you may have a valid claim against the dog’s owner.
7. What Types of Damages Can I Recover in a Dog Bite Claim?
Dog bite victims in Connecticut can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover calculable medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life.
8. How Can I Protect My Rights After a Dog Bite Incident?
Firstly, seek immediate medical attention regardless of the severity of the bite. It’s vital to document the incident meticulously, including taking photographs of your injuries and the location of the attack. Gather witness details, if possible, and report the incident to local animal control authorities. Finally, consult an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights.
9. Can I Negotiate a Settlement with the Dog Owner’s Insurance Company?
While you have the right to negotiate with the insurance company directly, it is generally not advisable. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators who aim to minimize the company’s payout. Engaging an experienced attorney can ensure your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation.
10. Do I Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Claim?
While you aren’t legally required to hire a lawyer, having a knowledgeable attorney can significantly improve your chances of success. A lawyer can guide you through the legal intricacies, gather essential evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your best interests.
11. What if the Dog Owner Claims That I Provoked Their Dog?
In Connecticut, if the dog owner can prove that the injured party was teasing, tormenting, or abusing their dog, or was committing a trespass or other tort, they may not be liable for the injuries. However, this exception does not apply to children under seven. 
It’s essential to note that the definition of provocation is subject to interpretation and can include both intentional and unintentional acts. A seasoned attorney can help you dispute such defenses, emphasizing the critical role of legal counsel in dog bite claims.
Feel Confident Moving Forward In Your Claim
Navigating the legal landscape of dog bite claims in Connecticut can be tricky, and this guide has hopefully offered a foundational understanding. However, every case carries its unique circumstances, and seeking counsel from legal professionals is highly recommended for comprehensive advice tailored to your specific situation.

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