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Can a Landlord Be Liable for a Dog Bite? 

March 29, 2024Dog Bites

A dog bite injury can lead to expensive medical costs, property damage and lost wages. In Colorado, state law allows dog bite victims to file claims in pursuit of financial compensation to make up for these losses. While the owner or controller of the dog is the person most commonly held liable, there are circumstances where a landlord could be financially responsible.

Colorado Is a One-Bite Liability State

There are two main legal doctrines used by states to determine dog bite liability: strict liability and the one-bite rule. Colorado is a one-bite liability state under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-124. This dog bite statute makes the animal’s owner or keeper liable for injuries caused by the dog if it can be proven that the pet owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dog’s vicious propensities.

Landlord Liability for a Dog Bite 

While the state’s dog bite statute means the person most likely held liable will be the owner of the dog (or the person who was in control of the animal at the time of the incident), state law does allow room for other liable parties. This can include a landlord if he or she failed to maintain a safe premises for tenants and guests. 

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-115, Colorado’s premises liability statute, is a dog bite victim’s only legal grounds available for holding a landlord liable for the injury. This law allows civil actions to be brought against the owner or controller of a property – including a landlord – in cases where the condition of or circumstances existing on such property result in injury to a lawful visitor. 

Case precedent in Colorado has established that a landlord can be held liable for a dog bite injury if the landlord had actual knowledge of the danger the dog presented prior to allowing the dog owner to lease the unit. If the landlord knew that the dog was of a dangerous breed, for example, or had a history of prior viciousness, this could be enough to make the landlord liable for a subsequent dog attack.

Establishing Landlord Liability in a Dog Bite Case

A landlord can be found responsible for a dog bite injury if it can be shown with clear and convincing evidence that he or she failed to take appropriate action to protect the victim against the known danger of the dog. If you wish to pursue a dog bite injury case against a landlord, you or your Denver personal injury lawyer will need to prove that the landlord had reason to know the danger that the dog presented and agreed to allow the dog to be kept on the premises anyway.

The burden of proof in an injury case is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely to be true than not true. An attorney can help you gather evidence against a landlord, such as leasing documents, communications between the landlord and the owner of the dog, any “Beware of Dog” signs posted on the property, prior complaints brought against the dog, or other indicators that the landlord knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.

Contact a Dog Bite Injury Attorney for Help 

Landlord liability for a dog bite injury in Colorado is a complicated subject. It can be challenging to hold a landlord responsible for his or her role in failing to protect you from the attack. If you wish to hold a landlord in Colorado liable for a dog bite injury, contact the attorneys at Dormer Harpring for assistance. We can investigate your case and collect the necessary evidence to hold one or more parties responsible.