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Who is Liable for a Stray Dog Bite

Posted on June 7, 2024 in

Getting bitten by a dog creates enough of a nightmare, particularly if the injuries are severe. Getting bitten by a stray dog adds a new layer of complexity to the situation. Typically, individuals are able to recover compensation from negligent dog owners, but what happens if there is no owner to hold accountable? This can get confusing, and it could leave injury victims with limited options for recovering compensation.

Do Connecticut Dog Bite Laws Apply to Strays?

Connecticut’s dog bite laws primarily focus on the responsibility of dog owners. According to Connecticut General Statutes Section 22-357, an owner or keeper (whoever has legal control of the dog at the time of the incident) of a dog is strictly liable for any damage caused by their dog, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. This law is intended to ensure that victims of dog bites can recover monetary compensation for their injuries without having to prove the dog owner’s negligence.

However, this statute applies to dogs with identifiable owners or keepers. In the case of stray dogs, there is no clear owner to hold liable under this law. Therefore, victims of stray dog bites may not be able to rely on Connecticut’s strict liability statute to seek compensation.

Is the Dog Really Stray?

Before concluding that a dog is a stray and that there is no one to hold accountable, it is important to verify the dog’s status. Sometimes, dogs that appear to be strays are actually lost pets, with owners who are unaware that their dog has gotten loose. Taking the following steps can help determine if the dog has an owner:

  • Check for identification. Look for any tags or collars that might have the owner’s contact information. This could include the dog’s name, the owner’s name, address, and phone number.
  • Microchip scan. Many dogs have microchips implanted under their skin, which can be scanned by a vet, clinic, animal shelter, or even some pet stores to retrieve the owner’s contact information.
  • Report to local shelters. Contact local animal shelters and animal control agencies to see if anyone has reported a missing dog matching the stray’s description.
  • Post notices. Putting up notices in the neighborhood or on social media can help locate the dog’s owner if they are searching for their pet.

If the dog does have an owner, Connecticut’s dog bite statute can then be applied to hold the owner responsible for the injuries caused by their pet.

Who Do You Report the Incident To?

When bitten by a stray dog, it is crucial to report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Seek medical attention. First and foremost, ensure that you receive medical care for your injuries. Dog bites can lead to infections and other complications, so prompt medical treatment is essential.
  2. Contact animal control. Report the bite to your local animal control agency. They can help capture the stray dog and determine if it poses a risk to others. They may also check for signs of rabies or other diseases.
  3. Notify the police. Filing a report with the local police can create an official record of the incident, which can be helpful if you need to pursue compensation through other means.
  4. Document everything. Keep accurate and thorough records of your injuries, medical treatments, and any communications with authorities. Photographs of your injuries and the location where the bite occurred can also be useful.

Alternative Compensation Options

If the dog is confirmed to be a stray and there is no owner to hold liable, victims of stray dog bites may need to explore alternative options for compensation:

  • Homeowner’s insurance. In some cases, the homeowner’s insurance policy of the property where the bite occurred may provide coverage for injuries.
  • Personal health insurance. Your health insurance may cover the medical expenses related to the dog bite, though this does not address other damages like lost wages or pain and suffering.

Call a Dog Bite Lawyer Near You Today

If you have been injured by a stray dog bite and are unsure of your legal options, contact the Law Offices of Connolly Brennan Ralabate, PC for assistance. We can help you navigate the complexities of your case and explore all possible avenues for compensation. Visit our contact page or call us today to schedule a free consultation.