Fort Collins Dog Bite Lawyers
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Across the United States, about 44% of households own a dog. In Fort Collins, Colorado, almost 70% of households own a dog, which may provide a higher risk of dog bite injuries. Dog bites may cause devastating and long-lasting injuries, so it’s important to take steps to protect your legal right to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
COLORADO DOG BITE LAWS
Colorado imposes strict liability on owners when their dog bites an individual who is lawfully present on private or public property. The owner is liable even if their dog has never bitten anyone before or has never displayed violent tendencies in the past.
An owner is not liable to a person who is injured by the owner’s dog when:
- The injured person was unlawfully on public or private property
- The person is on the owner’s property and a warning sign is posted
- The injured person knowingly provoked the dog
- The dog is used as a police or military dog and bit someone during the performance of its duties
- The injured person is a vet, dog groomer, or other professional who handles dogs
- The dog bites someone while working to hunt, herd, farm, ranch, or control predators on the owner’s property
Read More: Fort Collins Premises Liability Lawyers
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN BITTEN BY A DOG
Here are some steps you should take if you have been bitten by a dog:
1. Seek Medical Attention
Unless absolutely certain that you’re not injured, you should seek medical attention immediately after being bitten, either at your local emergency room or by seeing your physician. Leaving a dog bite untreated may cause infection later on and may have the potential to develop into something much worse. Remember that medical records may help prove that your injuries were caused by the dog bite, so be sure to keep an organized record of any documented injuries.
2. Obtain the Dog Owner’s Contact Information
It is always important to obtain the dog owner’s phone number, address, and insurance information. Even if you don’t know who the dog’s owner is and the owner is nowhere to be found, you may still obtain information from possible eyewitnesses or even from the dog’s license or collar tag, if possible.
3. Gather Evidence
Keep and gather evidence. Do not get rid of torn, blood-soaked, or dirty clothing, backpacks, purses, or anything else that was worn during the attack. These items could be crucial evidence. Additionally, make sure to take pictures of any injuries you may have, the dog, the location where the attack happened, and anything else that may be relevant to showing how the attack occurred.
4. Report the Dog Bite
Victims often hesitate to call the police or local animal control authorities when bitten by a dog they know. Understandably, victims do not want to sour a relationship with a family member, friend, or neighbor by reporting their dog. However, it’s important for aggressive dogs that bite to be evaluated to determine if they are dangerous to others. Remember, if you fail to report a bite, the dog could go and bite another person.
5. Call a Dog Bite Attorney
Filing a personal injury claim for a dog bite is often a complex and challenging process. Hiring an experienced dog bite attorney may help you through this difficult and traumatic time after the dog attack. A dog bite attorney at Zinda Law Group may not only help with gathering your claim documentation but may also help you establish liability and seek and negotiate fair compensation for your injuries. At Zinda Law Group, our experienced dog bite attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and seek a favorable settlement.
HOW TO PROVE LIABILITY IN A DOG BITE CASE
Under Colorado’s dog bite statute CRS 13-21-124, a victim may file a claim under the statute if:
- They have suffered serious bodily injury
- Due to the dog bite
- While lawfully on private or public property.
If a victim has suffered injuries resulting from a dog bite, but their injuries do not rise to the level of “serious bodily injury,” the victim may still collect both economic and non-economic damages through filing a negligence lawsuit. When the victim files a negligence suit, the victim must prove that:
- The dog owner had a duty to keep their dog from harming others;
- The dog owner breached this duty when they failed to protect others from their dog;
- The owner’s dog caused the injuries suffered; and
- The amount of damages the victim suffered as a result of the dog bite.
WHY DOG BITE INJURIES OCCUR
Usually, dogs bite people when they feel threatened. It’s a natural instinct for dogs to try and defend themselves in threatening situations. This is why it’s important for everyone who interacts with dogs to understand what may provoke a dog bite. Some of the most common causes of dog bites are:
The Dog is Defending Itself
A dog may bite you in self-defense. A dog may also bite you to defend its territory, a member of its pack, or its food. A mother dog may fiercely protect her puppies as well.
The Dog is Startled
Never startle a dog you don’t know by waking it up or suddenly approaching it from behind. Surprising a dog may provoke a defensive bite.
Playing or Running Away from a Dog
Running away from a dog, even during play, may provoke a bite. The dog that’s chasing you may think it’s part of the fun and nip you too hard. On the other hand, the dog chasing you could turn the chase into a predatory pursuit, causing the dog to bite more aggressively.
The Dog is Scared
A dog that is scared of its environment may bite anyone who approaches it. These kinds of situations are especially prevalent in dogs that have previously been abused or abandoned.
The Dog is Injured or Sick
If a dog is in any kind of pain, it may not want to be approached or handled, even by its favorite people.
COMMON DOG BITE INJURIES
The most common injuries sustained from a dog bite may include:
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Emotional effects
WHO MAY BE LIABLE
Dog owners are usually the ones who are held liable when their dog bites someone, but there are other parties who may also face liability:
A dog sitter or house sitter may be held liable if they are taking care of another’s dog temporarily. Caretakers will typically be considered the dog’s keeper during the time they are watching the dog. Whether or not a temporary caretaker may be held liable depends on the circumstances and the court.
Property Owners and Landlords
Landlords who do not have control over their tenants’ dogs are not held liable when the dog bites someone else. However, liability may be imposed if the landlord knew that the dog was dangerous but still allowed the animal on their property around others.
Children and Parents
If a child is under 18 and owns or is taking care of a dog, the child’s parents are probably liable when the dog bites someone else. Some states may rule that the parents are harboring the dangerous dog in their home.
COMPENSATION FOR DOG BITE INJURIES
Under Colorado statute CRS 13-21-124, a victim may only collect economic damages, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Costs of physical or psychological therapy
- Loss of income
- Loss of future income
A victim may still be able to recover damages for non-economic losses, or losses that cannot be defined in monetary terms, when they bring a negligence action. Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment
- Physical disfigurement
- A lowered quality of life
- Mental anguish
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A DOG BITE CASE IN COLORADO?
The statute of limitations for a dog bite claim in Colorado is two years. This means that a victim has two years from the date they were bitten to file a lawsuit against the owner.
You meet the statute of limitations by filing your lawsuit by the deadline. Negotiating with the insurance company is not enough to beat or extend the time limit.
After filing your claim with the court, it doesn’t matter how long your case may take to resolve. You beat the statute of limitations as long as you file your claim at least the day before the time limit runs out.
HOW LONG DOES A DOG BITE CASE TAKE?
Most dog bite cases take about the same amount of time. Once the lawsuit is filed, it is then up to the court to decide how long the case may take. Your case may be ready to go to trial within six months of filing with the court, but if the court is inundated with cases already, your case may take years to resolve.
Your case may also be affected by how long the discovery process of the case lasts. The discovery phase occurs after you have filed your lawsuit, where the parties gather information that could be used as useful evidence at trial. This often means gathering recorded testimony from witnesses and exchanging written questions and answers between the parties.
GET HELP FROM OUR FORT COLLINS DOG BITE ATTORNEYS
At Zinda Law Group, our Fort Collins dog bite lawyers have the experience and knowledge that has helped injured victims seek compensation after suffering an injury from a dog bite. We believe no one should have to worry about affording legal representation after an accident, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.