CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED Colorado DOG BITE LAWYER FOR FREE
Dog bites can cause severe injuries to victims and in some cases are even fatal. Because dog bite injuries often leave victims incapacitated and unable to work, expensive medical bills can mount, and feel more and more daunting as the family misses those lost wages. Unfortunately, victims often struggle to recover satisfactory compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that victims should not face the process of securing satisfactory compensation alone. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, help you navigate the laws in your state, and ultimately help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has been bit by a dog in Colorado, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Colorado dog bite attorneys. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case.
National Dog Bite Statistics
Dogs are very common pets in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a total of 89.7 million dogs are kept as pets throughout 63.4 million U.S. households. According to the same organization, there were a total of 16,991 dog bite claims filed in 2020, amounting to a total value of $853.7 million.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that there were 26,906 non-cosmetic reconstructive procedures conducted in 2018 as a result of dog bites. Sadly, children from 0–2 years old accounted for 26% of fatalities between 2005–2020, and children from 0–9 years old accounted for 44% of dog bite attack fatalities during the same period.
Read More: Dog Bite Statistics
What to Do after a Dog Bite
1. Seek Medical Attention
Tending to dog bite injuries as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of bacterial infection. If you have been attacked by a dog, you should first assess your injuries; if they are shallow and not severe, administer basic first aid, and if they are more serious, seek immediate medical attention. Keep track of your medical records—billing and treatment—as they will serve as key evidence in your case.
2. Document the Incident
Once your injuries have been assessed and treated, document the incident. Footage of the dog, injuries, and location of the attack can also serve as key evidence. If any witnesses were present at the scene, collect their contact information. Their testimony and any footage they collected of the attack can serve as further evidence.
3. File a Report
You should next contact your local animal control authority and file a report. If the dog has a history of attacking, it will also likely have been reported. Any history of violent behavior can help further substantiate your case.
4. Speak with an Attorney
Finally, contact an experienced attorney who can help you better understand your rights and options going forward as you seek compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will work with you to collect and organize evidence, and they will interview witnesses where needed. Most importantly, they will help you navigate the law governing dog bites to help you seek out maximum compensation.
In particular, be cautious of speaking with insurance companies before speaking with an attorney; insurance companies are not neutral third parties, and even your own insurance company does not always have your best interest in mind. Settlement offers are often based not on your actual pain and suffering but on a perception of what a likely outcome at trial might be. In contrast, once you become a client, your attorney is obligated to fight for you and help you secure maximum compensation.
Always remember, any communication you have with an insurance company can be raised against you during the settlement process and in court. Before speaking to an attorney, do not sign waivers or forms presented to you by insurance companies and do not admit fault.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a restriction barring claims after a certain period of time passes after the injury; the statute of limitation for personal injury claims in Colorado, including dog bites, is two years after the injury. Two years may seem like a long time, but you should not hesitate in reaching out to an injury attorney early on. Assessing your case early on will help ensure that key evidence is not forgotten, overlooked, or lost.
Dog Bite Compensation Laws in Colorado
An experienced attorney can help you fully understand the law governing compensation for dog bites. Meanwhile here is a simple explanation of the legal framework of two potential routes to recovery.
Firstly, there is a distinction between economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be reduced to a tangible monetary value; for example, medical bills, pharmacy bills, loss of income (both present and future), and lost earning capacity are all examples of economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to those that cannot be reduced to a monetary value; among other things, this includes your pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of a loved one (legally referred to as “loss of consortium”), and general reduction in quality of life.
Bearing this distinction in mind, be aware that there are two ways to recover compensation for a dog bite in Colorado: (1) a strict liability claim and (2) a negligence claim. Each method is outlined below.
A dog bite victim can bring a “strict liability” claim against the dog owner when the bite caused serious bodily harm. Importantly, strict liability only applies to injuries caused by bites. “Serious bodily injury” is defined as any injury involving:
- a substantial risk of death
- a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
- a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body
- breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree
The statute establishing this cause of action only allows victims to recover economic damages against the dog owner. The action may be brought “regardless of the viciousness or dangerous propensities of the dog” and regardless of the owner’s knowledge of their dog’s violent or dangerous tendencies; this kind of liability assigned to the owner regardless of their knowledge is generally referred to as “strict liability.” The key takeaway is that strict liability in dog bite cases can only result in economic damages and is only available in cases of serious bodily injury or death.
Further, this cause of action is subject to certain limitations. For example, it is not available to victims attacked while trespassing on public or private property. It is also not available to those who knowingly provoked the dog or were attacked on property clearly and conspicuously posted with "beware of dog" signs.
By alleging negligence, it is possible to recover both economic and non-economic damages in dog bite cases where the injury is not considered a “serious bodily injury.” Proving negligence showing:
1. The dog owner owed the victim a legal “duty of reasonable care.”
2. The owner breached that duty.
3. The victim was injured.
4. The owner’s breach caused that injury.
Whether the owner breached a duty of reasonable care often turns on whether they knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity for violence. The Supreme Court of Colorado has explained that a “vicious propensity” of a dog “is not confined to a disposition to attack every person but includes as well a natural fierceness or disposition to mischief as might occasionally lead him to attack human beings without provocation.” The Court further explained that the dog need not have bitten someone before in order to show a violent propensity.
Unlike cases of strict liability, the injury in a negligence claim does not have to be a “serious bodily injury” and may instead be a mere bodily injury. “Bodily injury” is defined as one resulting in muscle tears, bruising, or skin lacerations “requiring professional medical treatment or any physical injury that requires corrective or cosmetic surgery.” The injury in a negligence claim can be caused by behavior other than a bite; for example, a negligence claim could apply if the victim was severely scratched by the dog, but this would not be sufficient to prove strict liability.
Read more here: Colorado Dog Bite Statute
Zinda Law Group Dog Bite Injury Lawyers
Dog attacks can be extremely traumatic experiences and often result in severe, life-altering injuries; the law governing compensation demands a fact-intensive inquiry. An experienced attorney knows well how the law in Colorado will apply to your case; he or she can help you navigate the law, gather your evidence, and argue your case effectively.
At Zinda Law Group, we are committed to ensuring that victims of these attacks are provided with excellent legal representation. We take pride in our work as advocates for victims of dog bites and attacks, and our team of experienced personal injury lawyers is here to help.
We understand that recovering from your injuries and dealing with the fallout from a serious incident can be a full-time job. As you focus on recovering from your injuries, our Centennial dog bite lawyers will focus on helping you recover maximum compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced Centennial dog bite attorneys. You will pay nothing until we win your case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.