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Preventing Liability from a Dog Bite Case

Disclaimer: This blog, like many of our others, contains legal information and suggestions that are specific to Connecticut State laws. The legality of these statements is subject to change, they may not be the same as laws within other states, and ordinances may vary from town-to-town within the State of Connecticut. Additionally, this blog refers to domesticated animals as pets. Owners of exotic pets are strictly liable for damages caused by their pets regardless of whether or not they follow these guidelines for domesticated animals.

Being held liable for damages caused by dog bites could negatively affect both you and your dog. Often times, victims can recover for medical treatment and medications they already received, any future medical treatments, psychological counseling, a loss of earning capacity, and punitive damages. In addition to this, the law requires that the dog(s) responsible for the bite is placed in quarantine (usually for about 14 days) at a public pound, vet hospital, or other place approved by local authorities in order to assure the dog(s) does not have rabies.

A responsible pet owner takes precautions before a potential dog bite case could occur to prevent one from occurring, and to protect themselves and their pet from liability. Use the following information in order to help limit your liability according to CT State Laws.

Leashes

In Connecticut, the general statutes do not mandate that dogs are required to be leashed; however, they must not be allowed to roam on another person’s land, a public highway, or sidewalk unleashed, and roaming laws may be subject to local government ordinances.

If an owner, who was convicted in the preceding year of allowing a dog to roam, allows a dog to roam, and that dog physically injures someone who isn’t otherwise liable for the injury, that owner is subject to fines, imprisonment, or a combination of the two.

A primary way to prevent a dog bite from occurring is to leash and appropriately prevent a dog from roaming.

Vaccinations

A responsible pet owner makes sure that their pets receive the necessary vaccinations. This protects their animals, as well as other animals, from the spread of dangerous diseases. When you vaccinate your pets, keep copies of these medical records, especially rabies vaccinations.

If your animal does bite someone, you will need to locate and preserve these records.

Warnings

Giving the public an adequate warning about your pet can prevent or minimize liability for the owner and should help prevent someone from getting hurt in the first place. A common example of this would be placing a warning sign on your property about the animal, such as “BEWARE OF DOG”.

Providing people with a clear warning about your pet can mitigate your liability as the owner if that warning was ignored because the injury was therefore foreseeable.

Trespassing & Prevention

If the victim of a dog bite was committing a trespass or other tort on the owner’s property when the bite occurred, the owner will not be held liable for the damages. Regardless of whether there was a fence or other enclosure, the owner would not be liable in the case of a trespass.

However, if your animal trespasses on someone else’s property, you are liable for any damages that occur to people or property as a result.

Properly enclosing your property and/or pet helps to prevent damage to property or people from occurring either on your property or someone else’s.

Children (Under the Age of 7)

Trespasses and other torts cannot be applied to children under the age of seven. Additionally, it is assumed that children under seven were not teasing, tormenting, or torturing an animal. A child under seven will not be found responsible for damages that occurred to them. Thus, if a child under the age of seven was bitten or attacked by a pet, the owner is liable for the injuries sustained by default.

Use caution when allowing children under seven to have contact with a pet, or prohibit it outright. Children are less capable of understanding how to approach an animal and are less likely to assess the safety of such an animal before approaching it. You will be liable for damages that occur to children under seven.

Insurance

In the case that a dog bite did occur, homeowners insurance and even car insurance often covers animal attacks. As a responsible pet owner, you’ll want to make sure to check that your insurance policy covers such an incident.

Important: Recently, many insurance policies have defined criteria by which they will not cover damages. These often include specific breeds of dogs or certain types of pets that some insurance companies deem to be at a higher risk inclination to cause damages.

If you don’t yet have an insurance policy, or your existing one doesn’t cover animal attacks or your specific pet, you need to ensure that it does. The best plan of action as a responsible pet owner is to put measures in place to prevent an attack, limit your liability if one were to take place, and then insure yourself against any damages you do become liable for.

Responding to an Attack & Legal Representation

If your pet does attack someone, you should first seek medical attention for the victim. Make a physical record of the names, numbers, and addresses of the victim(s) and any witnesses. Additionally, try to avoid making any statements about the situation. This is also the point in time when you should locate your pet’s medical records mentioned earlier.

Consult an attorney so that you can discuss with them what events occurred, what your rights are, and how the situation can be remedied. It’s important to seek professional legal advice because once a bite occurs, everything that happens afterward is based on legal precedents and legal interpretations of what occurred.

If a dog bite or other such animal attack does occur, what you do afterward is almost as important as the steps you took beforehand to prevent an attack. Make sure that you adequately respond to the initial incident, and then prepare and protect yourself legally in order to protect both you and your pet(s).

If you have any other questions about dog and animal bite cases, always feel free to call (860) 423-9231 (between 9 am – 5 pm EST) to speak with one of The Prue Law Group, P.C.’s legal professionals!

The 15 Reasons to Update Your Will

When your will isn’t updated and reviewed at these critical points in time, there’s a potential that your loved ones will become emotionally divided, and they may also be left with the emotional and financial burden of unnecessary legal proceedings and fees.

It can be difficult to identify what these critical points in time are. That’s why we’ve created a list of 15 reasons you should put updating or creating your will at the top of your to-do list.

1. You haven’t created a will.

If you haven’t created a will yet, then you should make creating one a top priority. With a will, you can decide who will receive your property and assets after your death. You can choose who will receive custody of your children and pets as well as set aside funds for your children and grandchildren. You can create a testamentary trust and choose your executor. You can also plan for your funeral, service, burial, cremation, or other personal matters. You can amend or revoke your will.

2. You haven’t checked your will in the last 3 to 5 years.

Your will should be reviewed and revised every 3 to 5 years. Within this time frame a lot of things can change including marriages and long-term relationships, state laws, acquisitions or dispositions of funds and assets, the growth of families, health, etc. Each of these changes create concerns for the execution of your will, and if they aren’t addressed regularly, your will may be ineffective and create more difficulty rather than ease for your loved ones following your passing.

3. There may be new laws in your state.

The most important among these are changes in inheritance tax laws and laws concerning same-sex marriages.

4. The value of your estate has recently increased or decreased.

Any significant increase or decrease in the value of your estate is a reason to update your will. You may need to redistribute the estate to your loved ones.

5. You haven’t recently discussed your assets with your attorney.

Discussing your assets with your attorney regularly helps to avoid inheritance taxes.

6. You’ve recently acquired a significant asset (Real estate, business, estate).

If you’ve recently acquired new assets, of any kind, then you should update your will. For example, if you purchased real estate as an income property, a vacation home, or a fixer upper, you should address what needs to happen with this asset in the event of your passing.

Other important assets include businesses and estates.

7. You are recently married or are in a committed long-term relationship.

After marriage, you should update your will to reflect this change. Meeting with an attorney and discussing how your states’ marriage laws affect your will is strongly suggested.

Perhaps you aren’t married, but you are in a long-term relationship. If in the event of your passing you would like your partner to be a beneficiary, you have to dictate this in a will. Updating your will helps to ensure that your partner receives the assets you want them to receive.

8. You are recently divorced or are separated from your spouse.

If you’re divorced or separated from your spouse, you should make changes to your will as soon as possible. They may still be entitled to your assets, and you’ll want to revise your will to reflect your new arrangements.

9. New people should be named in your will (children, grandchildren, etc.)

If you are a new or expectant parent or grandparent (congratulations!) you should update your will to reflect these changes. You may need to redistribute assets among beneficiaries, or negotiate how these new beneficiaries can receive and use the assets they inherit from you.

Perhaps there’s another person who you would like to become a beneficiary. You should meet with an attorney to discuss how to include them in your will as well.

10. Children or grandchildren have reached the age of 18.

Any beneficiary of your will who was previously under the age of 18, but who has recently entered adulthood needs to be addressed at this time. The ways in which they had previously inherited your will may have changed since you last updated your will, and you will want to make changes to ensure that they can remain a recipient. It’s important that you take time to address creating or revising trusts for these members of your family.

11. Poor health of yourself or poor health of beneficiaries.

If you or a beneficiary are in poor health, then you should revise your will. You may need to determine with an attorney how these health concerns could affect your beneficiaries inheritance, and what changes may need to be made to your will and what steps are available to you to preserve what you have worked throughout your life to gather for your family.

12. You need to change the executor of your will.

There are many reasons you may need to change the executor of your will. Perhaps the previous executor has passed away, you’ve become divorced or separated, or you have determined that there is a more reputable executor. Either way, you will want to make this change as soon as possible.

13. Loss of beneficiaries.

In the event that a beneficiary has passed away or you’ve become otherwise detached, you should revise your will. Perhaps they were the parent of another beneficiary, or maybe they were receiving a portion of one of your assets. These and other concerns should be addressed as soon as possible.

14. You’ve recently started a gifting program.

When you start making gifts to family members, you should address how this affects your existing beneficiaries. Do you need to redistribute your assets in the event that certain beneficiaries are now left with less than others? Does your will still do what it was intended to do? These are all questions and concerns that you should go over with an attorney.

15. You are nearing the age of 70 and a half, or you have surpassed this age.

Prior to reaching 70and a halfyears of age, you need to review and update existing estate plans if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan that requires you to begin to take distributions once you reach 70 and a half years of age. The beneficiary that you designate will have an irrevocable impact on the required distributions that you will want to address with your attorney.

If you’re thinking that you may need to update your will, you can contact The Prue Law Group, P.C. at (860) 423-9231 to make an appointment with our team.