Dog Bite Injuries in Colorado
In most cases, we don’t deserve dogs. Their loyalty, friendship, and service are something mankind has cherished for centuries. In the US, we love dogs so much that 48 million households have at least one canine companion. Unfortunately, with that many dogs, the incidence of dog bites is also on the rise. The CDC reports about 4.5 million dog bites every year, with over 800,000 bites needing medical care. It is important to know your rights and what steps to take should you or a loved one experience a dog bite.
Colorado Dog Bite Law
In Colorado, Revised Statutes §13-21-124 state that the owner of a dog that bites is strictly liable if the animal caused “serious bodily injury or death” while the person was on public property or lawfully on private property. Serious bodily injury may include:
- Lacerations likely to result in permanent scarring
- Damage to organs
- Second or third degree burns
- Significant risk of death
It does not matter if the dog has never shown signs of aggression before. If the dog was in a public place, or the victim was legally on the owner’s property, the owner is liable for any serious injuries caused by their pet. They may face misdemeanor or felony charges and will be financially responsible for medical bills and other damages caused by the injury.
The dog’s fate is at the discretion of a judge. They may be placed in a shelter or, in extreme cases, humanely euthanized.
When Is an Owner Not at Fault for a Dog Bite?
Colorado law also outlines scenarios under which an owner cannot be held liable for an injury caused by their pet. The victim cannot claim any damages if the following situations apply:
- The victim works professionally with dogs (groomer, dog show judge, veterinarian, etc.)
- The victim was trespassing or ignored a warning sign
- The victim provoked the animal
- The dog was performing military or police work
- The dog was working (herding, farming, ranching, hunting, guarding, etc.)
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Any dog has the potential to bite someone, even if they have never done so before. If a pet is stressed, frightened, hungry, protecting puppies, or otherwise provoked, it may resort to biting. Sometimes, however, the reason a dog bites is not known. What we do know is that, most often, the victims of dog bites are children between the ages of 5 and 9. It is important to teach children how to behave around dogs or to avoid situations where they may be at risk:
- Never approach a dog you do not know
- If a dog approaches you, do not make loud noises or run away
- If a dog is eating, sleeping, or with puppies, leave them alone
- Always ask an owner permission before touching a strange dog
- Let a dog smell your hand before petting it under its chin, not on its head
- Report a dog that is acting strangely or aggressively
What To Do If a Dog Bites You
If you have been hurt by a dog, your first priority should be your safety. Once the animal has been restrained, seek medical attention immediately.
Once you are receiving treatment for your injuries, contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. You will need help building a case against the owner of the dog that attacked you, and an attorney can assist you while you recover. He or she will compile photographs, medical bills, and other evidence to help you seek compensation.
Dog Bite Damages You Can Claim
Under Colorado law, most dog bite cases are limited to “economic” damages. These are tangible costs related to the injury and include:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Future loss of income
There are certain instances where non-economic damages may also be claimed, but this is more difficult to prove. Non-economic damages are those related to the emotional impact of the ordeal, such as pain and suffering.
In order to claim these types of damages, your attorney will need to prove that the owner was aware that the dog was dangerous, or that the dog had demonstrated a potential for violence in the past. This does not necessarily mean that the dog had bitten someone before, but that it showed obvious signs of aggression.
Non-economic losses are capped at $250,000 in Colorado, unless the injury results in permanent impairment or disfigurement.
In any case, the dog bite claim statute of limitations in Colorado is two years from the date of injury.
Dog Bite Attorney Colorado
Dog bites can be a traumatic experience, especially if a child is involved. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog in Colorado, contact Dave Roth with the Roth Group. Dave is known for his compassion and dedication to his clients, and he will help you receive fair compensation for your injuries while you focus on your family and recovery. Call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.