An Overview of Connecticut’s Dog Bite Statute Section 22-357

Recently, we provided a general overview of the concept of strict liability. As we saw, strict liability is a highly important concept in the context of civil law. If you’re a pet owner, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with this idea, even if you don’t have reason to believe that your pet is particularly dangerous or likely to harm others. Strict liability is based on statutory civil law; this is especially true when it comes to harm caused by pets and comes into play in the context of Connecticut dog bite law. Dog bite law is one of our practice areas, and so in this post we will discuss Connecticut’s dog bite statute – General Statute § 22-357 – in a bit of detail.

Mastering all the finer points of Connecticut’s dog bite statute would require a very long, in-depth treatise. This post, however, will provide an overview of three basic points which underpin § 22-357.

Point #1: There is a Statute of Limitations

The first point to mention when discussing Connecticut’s dog bite law is that injuries caused by dog bites are subject to a statute of limitations. Under current law, the statute of limitations applying to dog bites is two years. In general, the clock for the statute of limitations starts running at the time of the injury. However, some exceptions exist, and so you should always check carefully to know precisely when the statute of limitations clock begins in a given case. Statutes of limitations are rarely overlooked. If you initiate a lawsuit after the two year period has expired, the court will simply dismiss the lawsuit and will not consider its merits.

Point #2: Strict Liability Applies to CT Dog Bite Law

Connecticut’s General Statute § 22-357 adheres to the principle of strict liability. This means that owners will be held liable for injuries even if they didn’t have prior knowledge of any aggressive or dangerous tendencies. It also means that owners will be held liable even if they aren’t directly at fault or negligent. Under current law, injured persons only need to demonstrate three things in order to have a sustainable case against an owner. They need to show: (1) that either they or their property were actually injured by the animal, (2) that they weren’t trespassing, and (3) that they were not provoking the animal.

Point #3: There are Two Main Defenses

Even though strict liability is the basis for Connecticut’s dog bite law, owners can still raise defenses against the allegations of plaintiffs. There are two primary defenses: (1) the injured person was hurt while trespassing, and (2) the injured person provoked (or tormented, teased, abused, etc.) the animal. These defenses make sense intuitively. Think about it: if a person trespasses onto your property and is hurt while trespassing, holding the owner accountable in such a scenario would hardly be fair. In this case, the trespasser would need to bear the responsibility. Likewise, if a person “provoked” your dog – say, if he or she slapped your dog with the intention of causing harm – then it also wouldn’t be fair if that person didn’t bear some responsibility. As with all cases, the full story is needed in order to give an assessment of the most likely outcome. But these are the two most frequently raised defenses in dog bite cases. 

Reach Out to Apex Law Firm Today

Connecticut dog bite law can be complex. This is especially true in cases which involve trespassing or provocation. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, or you have a possible claim, please contact Apex Law Firm today. We can give you an assessment to see if you may have a viable case. Give us a call today at 860-385-8360 and we will respond immediately.

Can a Business Be Liable for Spreading Coronavirus?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused unimaginable harm throughout the country. Nearly every state in the union has had to partially close its economy in order to prevent the further spread of the virus. So far, over 150,000 people have lost their lives as a direct consequence of the virus, and the number may possibly be much higher by the time a workable vaccine is developed. Most states have passed regulations on the economy in order to forcibly prevent the spread of the virus. What’s more, most businesses which have remained open have instituted various safety measures to protect their employees.

If you have contracted the coronavirus, and you suspect that the contraction occurred due to the negligence of a business, the question becomes: can that business be held liable for any damages which result from the virus? The answer is a bit complicated and liability will be determined by your relationship with the business. In other words, were you an employee or a consumer?

Duty of Care

To start off, we should mention this critical fact: in order for someone to be held liable for another person’s damages, there must be a “duty of care.” The “standard of care” depends on the circumstances of a given situation. As a general rule, all employers owe their employees a certain duty of care to provide a safe work environment. Likewise, businesses owe a duty of care to protect consumers from harm or at the very least provide warning of potential harm. The precise methods which an employer or business must undertake in order to satisfy its duty of care depends heavily on the specific facts of the situation at hand. In the case of the coronavirus, employers clearly need to implement various types of safety precautions (i.e. masks, social distancing, etc.) in order to ensure that the threat of contraction is minimized on the job. Businesses have been mandated to limit the amount of consumers, and in some cases, have been precluded from conducting business at all (as in the case of bars). But, even if the precautions taken by employers and businesses are minimal, potential claimants should know that pinning responsibility for contraction of the virus on an employer or business will likely be very difficult.

Workers’ Compensation Law May Prevent a Lawsuit

Simply put, a substantial portion of potential coronavirus claimants are going to be barred from suing their employer because of workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation insurance limits the benefits employee may recover from job losses and bars an employee’s ability to sue an employer for injuries caused at work because it is considered a no-fault policy. In other words, an employee doesn’t have to prove negligence and is entitled to benefits even if hurt as a result of his or her own actions. However, potential claimants may have a case if one of the following scenarios applies to their situation: (a) your employer lacks workers’ compensation insurance, (b) a third party caused your illness or injury, or (c) your illness came about because of intentional wrongdoing on the part of your employer.

Personal Injury Liability

Businesses owe a duty of care to consumers to provide them with a reasonably safe environment. Liability against businesses depends on the knowledge and conduct of the business and its employees. In a typical slip and fall case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that the substance that he or she slipped on was present for a long enough time for someone to have noticed it and cleaned it up or warn of the potential danger. Liability depends on the reasonable actions of the liable party. In the case of the coronavirus, if a business refused to follow State mandates and failed to ensure its employees wore masks, thus making it more than likely that spreading the virus was due to its negligence, you could have a potential claim.

Coronavirus Damages May Be Difficult to Link to Employer or Business

Even if a potential claimant may have a viable case – say, in a situation in which workers’ compensation law doesn’t apply or where an exception may exist or where a business is blatantly disregarding public safety – linking the contraction of the virus to the employer or business may be extremely difficult. In order to be held liable, claimants need to show that the actions of the employer or business were the “proximate cause” (i.e. legal cause) of the injury. This may be a very steep hurdle to overcome in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. After all, some coronavirus victims don’t show symptoms for up to two weeks. Given that this is the case, being able to conclusively demonstrate that the employer is the proximate cause or that you contracted the virus at one specific business might be very challenging.

Reach Out to Apex Law Firm Today

This is just an introduction to the topic of employer and business liability for coronavirus-based damages. Although it’s clear that there may be many hurdles to a successful claim in this area, this doesn’t mean that a successful claim is impossible. If you’d like more information about this rapidly developing issue, contact Apex Law Firm today. Call us at 860-385-8360 and one of our professionals will respond to your query right away.

A Basic Overview of Strict Liability

One of our goals at APEX Law Firm is to educate readers so that they can better understand certain legal concepts. We want our readers to be able to navigate the legal system successfully, and gaining more knowledge of legal concepts can assist in this area because many areas of law require a good bit of effort in order to fully grasp. Civil liability is one area which can be elusive to the typical layperson. In this post, we’re going to provide an overview of one important topic in civil liability: strict liability.

Of note, strict liability also applies in criminal law as well. But, for the the purpose of this article, we’re going to confine the discussion to strict liability within civil law.

Liability is a Layered System

Before discussing the essential points of strict liability, it’s important to understand liability in general. Readers should take note of the fact that liability is a layered system in the sense that defendants can owe different levels of care to plaintiffs depending on the circumstances. In other words, liability is something which is very much context-dependent. In one scenario, for instance, someone may be owed a certain duty of care and may assume essentially no risk; this might happen if a person walks into a supermarket or convenience store and has a “slip and fall” accident. The store has a duty to keep its aisles clear and free of hazards and cannot rely on the customer’s assumption of risk without proper warning.  In other situations, however, a plaintiff might assume a certain level of risk, such as a person who gets accidentally struck by an errant golf ball while voluntarily playing golf. The owner of the golf course will likely not be liable because the golfer assumes the risk by choosing to play that course.

The key thing to remember is that liability is almost never “absolute,” but depends heavily on the particular facts of a given situation.

Strict Liability Disregards Intent

In essence, strict liability is a theory which assigns liability without regard for the intentions or mental state of the defendant. In other words, if a defendant were held strictly liable, then he or she would be responsible for damages even though no fault or negligence occurred. The idea behind this theory is that the activities covered by strict liability are inherently dangerous, and so there is basically no need to apply any sort of fault or negligence analysis. Or, strict liability can also be applied to situations in which the defendant should always do whatever is necessary to prevent harm, even in those situations which aren’t inherently dangerous (such as harm caused by a domesticated pet).

Common Example of Strict Liability

Many strict liability situations are derived from statutes. One of the most common instances in which strict liability is applied is in cases involving harm caused by pets. In Connecticut, C.G.S. § 22-357 imposes liability on a dog’s owner or keeper for injuries caused by the dog to someone else’s person or property. This is a strict liability statute, so it does not require the victim to prove that the dog’s owner or keeper knew that the dog was vicious or was negligent in any way.

A person injured by a dog could also proceed under a negligence theory by proving that the dog owner or keeper knew that the dog was vicious and did not take appropriate steps to prevent the harm. In certain cases, third parties (such as landlords) can be held liable if it can be shown that the party knew about the dog’s propensity to cause harm and did nothing to alleviate the danger.

There are defenses to strict liability situations as well. In the dog bite example, if the dog owner was able to prove that the person harmed was antagonizing the dog or provoked the dog to attack, he or she may not be liable for the damage.

Contact Apex Law Firm for Additional Information

This is just a very basic overview of strict liability as a useful introduction. If you’ve been harmed and you think the theory of strict liability may apply, contact Apex Law Firm right away. If you’ve suffered an injury from a dog bite, a defective product, or other similar cause, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Call us at 860-385-8360 or email us at info@apexlawfirmct.com.