Longmont Dog Bite Lawyers
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Imagine you are out for a walk at a park, and you approach a dog owner with her dog who is off leash. The dog seems friendly, so you ask the owner permission to pet it; the owner permits you to pet her dog, but the dog suddenly bites your hand. This is just one possible scenario in which a dog bite can occur. That’s why it’s important to know experienced Longmont dog bite lawyers.
At this point in the story, an injury attorney will have at least a dozen questions about various other aspects of the scenario. Before you hire a personal injury lawyer near you, it will probably be most helpful if you take a few minutes to explore some of the most important questions about dog bite cases.
Statute of limitations
Any action involving a dog bite in Colorado has a statute of limitations of two years. This means that from the moment the dog bite happens, the clock starts ticking. You have two years from the day of the bite for you to bring your claim against the dog owner.
Case Analysis Based on Injury
The type of injury you sustain will determine how to proceed with your case. If you receive a serious bodily injury as defined by section 18-1-901 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, you have a strict liability case; if you receive other injuries, then your case will fall under a negligence analysis. The following distinctions will help you further understand where your case falls in the realm of dog bite law.
Strict Liability Analysis for Serious Injuries
There is a law in Colorado which creates strict liability when a dog bite causes a serious bodily injury. “Serious bodily injury” in the cases of dog bites refers to any bodily injury which, either at the time of the dog bite or at a later time, involves 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, or breaks or fractures.
In the context of strict liability, the dog owner’s intent does not matter. A case must fall under certain circumstances for a defendant to be held strictly liable; for example, a manufacturer can be strictly liable if it sold you a defective product. A defendant can also be held strictly liable for injuries caused by performing abnormally dangerous activities.
Most relevantly, certain circumstances involving animals fall under strict liability. A defendant can be liable for the trespass of certain domestic animals and for injuries caused by wild animals. A dog owner can be held strictly liable for the serious bodily injuries that his or her dog causes when the victim is lawfully on public or private property.
You may have heard of the one-bite rule that removes strict liability from the dog owner if the owner did not know or did not have a reason to know about the dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities. Colorado’s statute places strict liability on a dog owner whose dog bites and injures someone regardless of whether the dog had the propensity to bite. Further, the statute states that if the owner was on notice about the dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities, then the victim of the bite or a representative of the victim can enter an order that the dog be euthanized at the owner’s expense.
Negligence Analysis for Other Injuries
If you received an injury but not one involving a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks or fractures, then your case will fall outside of Colorado’s dog bite statute and fall instead under a negligence analysis. For the negligence claim, you must show that the dog owner owed you a legal duty of care, that the dog owner failed to take measures that would prevent a bite, that you were injured, and that your injury was caused by the dog owner’s action or lack of action.
Defenses That the Dog Owner can Bring
The dog owner is able to respond to your claim with relevant defenses. Colorado’s statute outlines specific defenses that the dog owner can bring to avoid being held strictly liable, and there is also a common defense for negligence that a dog owner will probably raise.
In Strict Liability Cases
A dog owner might not be held strictly liable for your injuries for the following reasons:
- You were trespassing (and therefore unlawfully on public or private property) at the time you were bitten.
- You were on the dog owner’s property and the property is clearly and conspicuously marked with one or more signs that state “No Trespassing” or “Beware of Dog.”
- You were bitten by a dog being used by a peace officer or military personnel in the performance of duties.
- You knowingly provoked the dog that bit you.
- You are a veterinarian, dog groomer, humane agency staff person, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge acting in the performance of duties at the time you were bitten.
- You were bitten by a dog that was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, farm or ranch dog, or predator control dog under the control of the dog’s owner.
In Negligence Cases
The defendant in a negligence case will—if it is possible in his or her case—raise the defense of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence occurs when both parties take some percentage of fault for the incident. In a Colorado dog bite case, these defenses might be similar to those that the dog owner can raise in strict liability cases, such as knowingly provoking the dog or ignoring an owner’s request that you stay away from the dog.
It is important to note that you can still recover for some percentage of your damages even if you are partially at fault. For example, if a jury decides that you were 30% negligent and that the dog owner was 70% negligent, you could still recover for 70% of your injuries.
Types of Compensation You Could Receive
The types of compensation that you could receive as the victim of a dog bite might vary based on the kind and seriousness of the injury you incurred. It is most likely that you will be able to get economic and noneconomic damages. Sometimes, a dog bite victim can even receive punitive damages to punish the owner of the dog.
Economic damages usually include medical expenses and loss of income. In dog bite cases, it can also include the medical costs of treatment for surgery or scars, the costs of psychological treatment and counseling that you anticipate for the future, the costs of defensive measures to protect yourself from the dog in the future, the loss of value of your home due to its proximity to dangerous dogs, costs of torn clothing from the attack, and other present and future expenses.
Noneconomic damages cover your pain and suffering. In dog bite cases, this can include the mental suffering that you experience when you remember the attack or encounter dogs presently, the loss of quality of life from obtaining a disability, loss of future earning capacity, and other financially intangible losses.
How a Dog Bite Lawyers Can Help You if You Have Been Bit by a Dog in CO
Now that you have gained a general understanding of some of the legal aspects of your case and what kind of substantive arguments you might be able to make to get compensated, you may want to know why you should even consider hiring an attorney. In addition to the substantive arguments of your claim, you will also need to be familiar with the procedural process. A lawyer knows when to file your claim, where to file, and against whom to file; there are also specific rules about the length of your complaint and how you must structure it for a court to accept it.
A lawyer will also know how to negotiate with the insurance companies and make sure that you do not answer the questions that those companies ask in a way that hurts the strength of your case. An experienced attorney also will have seen cases like yours and know about how much compensation you should be able to receive for your injuries as well as any limits to the coverage from the dog owner’s insurance company. In this way, a lawyer provides the best chance of you getting the maximum amount of compensation possible.
talk to Longmont dog bite lawyers from zinda law group
If you have suffered due to the negligence of a dog owner or if you need to hold a dog owner strictly liable for your serious bodily injury, you could benefit from the assistance of a Colorado dog bite lawyer. Our experienced attorneys want to hear about your experience and see how they can help you with your case. You can reach the Zinda Law Group lawyers at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation.
These compassionate lawyers want to guide you through the legal system to help you recover for your injuries. Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee lets you have the assurance that you will not pay us unless we win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.