Can a CT landlord be sued for a dog bite?
This situation comes up a lot. Connecticut has a lot of rental housing. And a number of tenants have dogs. I love dogs. But untrained, unleashed, and unsupervised dogs can cause great damage. I blame people and not the dogs.
Can A CT Landlord Be Sued For A Dog Bite ?
One day you are coming home from work. You are walking up the stairs to your apartment. You are holding a glass bottle. Suddenly and without warning a dog breaks free from a screen door, knocks you to the ground, and latches onto your arm.
The pressure. It feels like your arm is in a vice grip. You strike back with your other arm. Ultimately knocking the dog off you. You look down and you see bone. The skin has been ripped from your arm. Everything feels warm. You feel like you are going to pass out.
The next thing you know, you are in a hospital. A surgeon is explaining that there will need to be multiple surgeries on your arm. And that the open wound presents an infection risks. She also tells you that you may have nerve damage. Your medical bills are astronomical. You can’t work.
And even worse, the tenant who has the dog has no insurance and no assets.
Where will you turn for the help you need?
CT Landlords Can Be Sued For Dog Bites
In Giacalone v. Housing Auth. of the Town of Wallingford, 306 Conn. 399 (2012), the Connecticut Supreme Court explains, “It is, of course, the duty of a landlord to use reasonable care to keep in a reasonably safe condition the parts of the premises over which he reserves control . . . A landlord, in exercising the closely analogous duty to alleviate dangerous conditions in areas of a premises over which it retains control, must take reasonable steps to alleviate the dangerous condition created by the presence of a dog with known vicious tendencies in the common areas of the property.” Giacalone v. Housing Authority, 306 Conn. 407-08.
Connecticut Landlords May Be Held Liable For A Dog Bite Under A Theory Of Constructive Notice
Connecticut landlords can be held liable under a theory of constructive notice. “Constructive notice is triggered by a general duty of inspection, or when the dangerous condition is not apparent to the human eye, some other factor that would alert a reasonable person to the hazard.” Sotomayor v. Dickau, Docket No. HHD-CV-16-6065928S, 2016 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3466, at *12 (Super. Dec. 30, 2016), quoting DiPietro v. Farmington Sports Arena, LLC, 306 Conn. 107 (2012).
Did The Landlord Fail To Investigate The Dog?
A Connecticut landlord, the defendant had a general duty of inspection and was required to determine whether the dog that attacked the plaintiff created a dangerous condition. A landlord has a duty to ask questions about a dog he knows to be kept on its property. Here are some questions a landlord may have a duty to ask:
- Was the dog abused?
- Has it bitten other people?
- Is it known to be aggressive?
- What kind of breed is the dog?
- How is the dog being kept?
- Is the dog trained?
- Was the dog involved in dog fighting?
Landlords can be sued for dog bites under certain circumstances. The claim differs from situations where a claim is being pursued against a dog’s owner or keeper. In those cases, a landlord can be strictly liable for a dog bite. Claims against landlords need to be properly investigated.
If you have any further questions you can call me at (860) 471-8331 for a no charge consultation.