Every year, hundreds of dog bite injuries get reported throughout the State of Colorado. The City of Aurora alone reported 433 dog attacks in 2019. After a dog attack that inflicts serious injuries or property damage, the victim can bring a claim or lawsuit against the pet owner under Colorado’s dog bite laws. If you get injured in a dog attack in Colorado, you may need assistance from a Denver dog bite injury lawyer to navigate state laws and obtain fair financial compensation for your losses.
Most states in the country use either a strict liability or one-bite law to determine who must pay for a dog bite injury. Colorado is a strict liability state. This means that an injured victim can recover damages against the owner of the dog, regardless of the question of the owner’s negligence or knowledge of the dog’s viciousness. The victim does not have to prove that the dog had bitten someone previously, as in a one-bite state.
Colorado’s dog bite law is found in the Revised Statutes, Section 13-21-124. This law states that a person who suffers a serious bodily injury or death after being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property it is entitled to bring a civil cause of action against the owner of the animal, regardless of the vicious or dangerous propensities of the dog and the dog owner’s knowledge or lack of knowledge thereof.
No. Under Colorado dog bite law, as long as the defendant was the owner or controller of the dog at the time of the incident and the victim was lawfully on the property where the attack took place, the pet owner will be made to pay economic and noneconomic damages to the victim. This is true even if the owner was unaware of the dog’s violent tendencies.
It is not necessary to approve that the pet owner was negligent, or failed to use reasonable care, to prevent the dog attack – such as proof that the dog was running at large. However, if negligence is present, the victim may be able to use this as further proof in an injury claim.
When a victim gets injured by a dog in Colorado, he or she can often file a claim with the pet owner’s insurance company to pursue compensation for his or her medical bills and other losses. Homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, commercial insurance or other forms of property insurance are generally available to pay for these claims, as dogs are classified as property in Colorado.
A pet owner or his or her insurer may try to avoid liability for a dog bite claim using various defense tactics. One is that the victim was trespassing at the time of the incident. Another is that the victim provoked the dog into attacking. It is also a defense to dog bite injury liability if the dog was performing its duties as a police canine or used as a working dog, such as a hunting or ranching dog. If a defense is proven, the victim’s financial award can be reduced by his or her percentage of fault under Colorado law.
Colorado places a strict time limit on a victim’s right to bring a lawsuit for a dog bite injury. This law, referred to as the statute of limitations, gives most people no more than two years from the date of the attack to bring a related personal injury claim. There may be an exception, however, for an injured minor. In this case, the minor typically has two years from the date that he or she turns 18 to file a claim. If an individual fails to file a dog bite case within the time limit, he or she will almost always lose the right to recover compensation from the pet owner in Colorado.
If you or a loved one was recently injured in a dog attack in Colorado, contact Dormer Harpring to learn more about the state’s dog bite laws during a free case consultation.