What Should I Do If a Dog Attacked Me in Colorado?
Call (800) 863-5312 to Speak with Arvada Dog Bite Lawyers for Free
Friendly dogs can be mankind’s best friends; unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly. When a dog bites you and you are injured, the damage could be minor and easily forgotten or the incident can be severe, causing long-lasting pain or even trauma. If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog in the Arvada area, you may be feeling upset and worried not only about your injuries but also about medical bills and the cost of treatments or medications.
A personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation from the person who was responsible for your dog bite injury. At Zinda Law Group, our Arvada injury attorneys have helped thousands of victims get compensation after being injured by dog bites. If someone’s dog injured you, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with our Arvada dog bite injury lawyers.
How Does Colorado Law Protect Me if I Am Bitten By a Dog?
Colorado’s revised dog bite statute (C.R.S 13-21-124) holds owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. Strict liability means that, if your dog bites someone, you can be held liable even if you tried to prevent the injury or even if you did not know that your dog might be aggressive, dangerous, or capable of biting someone.
Under this statute you can be held liable if:
- Your dog bites someone, causing serious bodily injury or death, and
- The victim was lawfully on public or private property at the time of the attack,
- Regardless of your knowledge or lack of knowledge about the dog’s dangerous propensities.
The statute defines bodily injury as, “any physical injury that results in severe bruising, muscle tears, or skin lacerations requiring professional medical treatment or any physical injury that requires corrective or cosmetic surgery.”
A serious bodily injury is defined as, “an injury that involves a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function or organ or a break, fracture or second- or third-degree burn.” See 18-1-901, C.R.S.
This statute covers dog bites only, and only physical injuries covered under the definitions of bodily injury and severe bodily injury provided in the statute. What the statute does not cover:
- Non-dog bite injuries caused by dogs
- Bite injuries caused by working dogs while performing their duties; this includes police or military dogs performing their police or military duties and dogs working as hunting, herding, farm, or ranch dogs if they are on the owner’s property or under the owner’s control.
- The statute does not protect people who are unlawfully on public or private property.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Colorado?
A dog bite injury action must be filed within two years of the victim’s injury; the two-year period begins to run on the date the injury occurred. This is called a statute of limitations, and means you have two years to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. If the case is not filed within that time period, the case can be dismissed, and you may lose the right to recover damages.
To avoid neglecting to file within the time period defined by the statute of limitations, call a Zinda law group attorney for a free consultation as soon as possible. Contacting a personal injury attorney near you will give you time to understand your options, and help you build the best case possible after your injury.
What damages can I recover as part of my lawsuit?
Damages are the monetary payments awarded by the court to compensate you for your injury. The dog bite statute only allows for recovery of economic damages arising from the incident. Economic damages recoverable in a dog bite action can include:
- medical bills, including and especially those not covered by the victim’s insurance company
- future medical expenses for the injury
- counseling and therapy expenses
- loss of income and future loss of income
- loss of earning power from the injury
Non-economic damages are only recoverable if you bring a negligence action against the dog owner, which is not a strict liability action. Noneconomic damages in a negligence action can include:
- pain and suffering
- grief and sorrow
- loss of consortium
- emotional distress
Colorado caps non-economic damages according to the type of damages. For instance, pain and suffering damages are capped at $250,000, or $500,000 upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the higher amount is appropriate; see CRS 13-21-203 (Limitation on Damages). If you are experiencing medical distress from a dog bite and believe you would like to pursue non-economic damages, contact one of Zinda Law Group’s experienced personal injury lawyers near you today to discuss your claim.
Does Colorado have the One-Bite Rule?
The one-bite rule is a common law rule that allows a dog owner to assume their dog is not dangerous until the dog behaves in a way that proves otherwise. This means that, if a dog bite injury results from the first time a dog has bitten someone, a victim may not be able to recover damages. Colorado does not employ the one-bite rule because Colorado’s revised statute for dog bites imposes strict liability for economic damages on owners whose dogs cause serious bodily injury, regardless of whether the owner knew about the dog’s tendencies beforehand.
What if I Can Prove the Owner Knew the Dog Was Dangerous?
If the owner knew the dog was dangerous, you can likely bring a negligence action against the owner in order to recover noneconomic damages resulting from your injury. In addition to biting, a variety of behaviors put owners on notice that their dogs may be dangerous. Things that put an owner on notice of a dog’s potential for dangerous behavior can include:
- growling, snapping, and lunging at passers-by
- jumping, even in a friendly manner, which can cause injuries
- a dog trained to fight, so a court will generally presume an owner knows the dog could be dangerous
- complaints from neighbors that the dog is biting or threatening someone
If the Colorado dog bite statute does not apply, there is nothing to stop an injured Arvada dog bite victim from bringing a standard negligence action against a dog owner. To prove negligence occurred, the injured dog bite victim must prove:
- that the dog owner owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- that the dog owner breached that duty of care
- that the dog owner’s breach was the cause of the injury
- that the plaintiff sustained injuries that can be quantified in terms of monetary damages
To determine whether a person breached a duty of care, a jury will consider whether a reasonable person of ordinary prudence would have acted in the same way in the same circumstances. See Lopez v. Trujillo. Contact Zinda Law Group’s Arvada dog bite attorneys today for a free consultation about whether you qualify for a negligence claim against a dog owner.
Will a Dog Be Euthanized as a Result of the Lawsuit?
Not necessarily. If a victim who is seriously injured from a dog bite attack can prove that the dog owner knew the dog was dangerous, then the injured person can make a motion requesting that the court order the animal to be euthanized. Euthanasia then occurs at the owner’s expense and must be performed by a licensed shelter or veterinarian.
Euthanasia is often considered an extreme remedy, which is why a plaintiff must prove that the owner knew the dog was dangerous and had a history of violent behavior. The owner has the right to appeal a euthanasia decision and the dog will not be euthanized until the right to appeal is exhausted.
When is an Owner Not Liable for a Dog Bite Attack?
A defense to a dog bite liability claim will depend on whether the plaintiff brought a strict liability action or a negligence action against the owner. In a strict liability case, the owner will need to prove that they are not liable for one of several reasons; this can include if the dog was working at the time of the incident, either as a police or military dog, or as a hunting, herding, farm, ranch, or predator control dog on the owner’s property or under the owner’s control. Likewise, the owner may be able to defend against the claim if the injured person was trespassing, ignored posted signs warning “No trespassing” or “Beware of dog,” knowingly provoked the dog, or works with dogs professionally and was performing those duties at the time of the incident.
In a negligence action, an owner will typically present a comparative negligence or trespassing defense. If the injured person was on the dog owner’s property without permission and without another legitimate reason for being there, the owner will bring a trespassing defense.
If the injured person provoked the dog, then an owner may defend themselves with a comparative negligence defense. Colorado has a modified comparative fault rule, which may reduce damages if more than one individual is to blame for an injury. If the injured person is more than fifty percent liable for the injury, then they are unable to collect damages.
Call (800) 863-5312 to Speak with Arvada Injury Lawyers for Free
If you or someone you love has been injured by a dog bite in Colorado, a consultation with a Zinda Law Group personal injury attorney can help you decide if you would like to bring a dog bite case. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for medical costs and other economic damages resulting from a dog bite.
Our firm also believes that a victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why our injury lawyers offer 100% free consultations, and why you will pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your personal injury case; it is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. If a dog bite seriously injured you, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with our Colorado dog attack lawyers.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.