Fort Collins Dog Bite Attorneys
Responsible dog ownership goes beyond the expected issues of ensuring that your animal is provided with food, water, ample opportunities for exercise, appropriate tags, and regular veterinary care. Pet owners in Colorado also have a legal obligation to ensure that their dogs do not bite anyone. If a dog bit you, speak to an experienced Fort Collins personal injury attorney at Tenge Law Firm, LLC. Colorado law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries. Call us at (970) 212-4777.
Colorado law (Section 13-21-124, Civil actions against dog owners) has a combination of “strict liability” and “negligence” rules when it comes to dog bites, and which rule your case falls under depends on both the severity of the injuries and where the bite occurred. Here is an overview of both rules and their impacts on dog bite cases.
Strict Liability: If a dog bite causes serious injury or death and occurs while the victim is either on public property or lawfully on private property, the case becomes one of strict liability, meaning that the dog owner can be sued for bodily injury even if they did not know that their dog had the propensity to bite or become aggressive. Injuries seemed serious enough to evoke the strict liability include those that pose a substantial risk of death, serious or permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of loss or impairment of a body part or organ, or result in broken bones or serious injury.
The only valid defenses against strict liability dog bite cases in Colorado are:
- If the dog is performing military or law enforcement duties.
- The dog is working as a hunting, herding, or farm dog at the time the bite occurred.
- The victim was working as a veterinarian, dog handler, groomer, or other dog-related professional at the time of the bite.
- The property where the bite occurred was clearly and conspicuously marked with signs stating “beware of dog” or “no trespassing.”
- The injured person was trespassing and/or provoked the dog.
Negligence: Colorado’s negligence rules apply in cases where the injuries are less serious or in cases where the injuries are caused by the dog, but are not from a dog bite. An example of this might be if the dog knocked someone down. In negligent dog bite cases, the claimant must prove that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care or control in restraining the dog and preventing it from injuring someone. Additionally, the one bite rule applies in negligent dog bite cases, meaning that if the dog has bitten someone or acted in an aggressive manner at least one time before, then the owner can no longer say that they did not know that the dog was aggressive.
Like other personal injury cases in Colorado, dog bite cases here are subject to comparative negligence. What this means is that if a claimant is found to be at least partially responsible for the incident that caused their injuries, the award they obtain through the claim will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. Additionally, if the claimant is found to be at least 50 percent at fault for the injuries they sustained, they likely won’t receive an award at all.
In dog bite cases, it is a common tactic of the dog owner or his or her insurance carrier to attempt to place all or a portion of the blame for the bite on the victim. Some defenses that are commonly used in these cases are that the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing.
Victims of dog bites can seek both economic and non-economic damages for their injuries. Here are some examples of each type.
- Economic: Economic damages include the cost of medical treatment, as well as any lost wages due to missing work because of the injury.
- Non-economic: Examples of non-economic damages in dog bite cases include pain and suffering, mental trauma such as a fear of dogs following the attack, the suffering of disfigurement, and other damages not readily visible.
An experienced personal injury attorney will not only be able to help you calculate the economic and non-economic costs of your injuries, but will also be able to determine if the settlement the dog owner’s insurance provider may have offered you is fair. In addition, your attorney will use the documentation of your injuries and the facts of your case to attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance provider or to pursue compensation through a dog bite lawsuit if no fair settlement is forthcoming.
If you or someone you are with is injured from by a dog bite, you should do the following:
- File a report with the county animal control department in the county where the bite occurred. Colorado law requires filing the report within 12 hours after the bite occurred. Be sure to provide as many details as you can about where and how the bite happened, and request a copy of your report.
- Seek prompt medical attention for your injuries. The medical provider will be legally required to report the dog bite to the state health department.
- Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about the facts of your case and your legal options. Avoid making statements or discussing a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance company representatives until after you have spoken to an attorney.
The Tenge Law Firm, LLC understands the physical and emotional trauma that dog bites can cause. Like other personal injury cases, Colorado law only allows two years to file a dog bite claim or you risk being unable to seek compensation. We provide an experienced and skilled legal team that is prepared to fight for the compensation you need to recover. If you have been injured due to an unprovoked attack by a dog, contact Tenge Law Firm, LLC online or call at (970) 212-4777 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with our Fort Collins dog bite attorney.
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