Dog Bite Lawyer
Colorado’s dog bite laws are complex, but if you’ve been bitten or attacked by another’s pet, you have rights.
Dog attacks happen suddenly and can cause serious or catastrophic damages. Many people require emergency medical attention, surgery, and ongoing medical care.
There is no way to predict which dogs will attack. As a Denver personal injury law firm, we have heard numerous stories of previously peaceful dogs (or other pets) who suddenly lashed out without warning.
We happen to be dog lovers here at Chalat Law, but we also understand that pets must be controlled to prevent them from hurting others.
Understanding Dog Bite Claims in Colorado
If you’re attacked by a dog in Colorado, the claim you bring will depend upon the facts surrounding your attack. Depending upon the circumstances, a combination of local and state laws may apply to your claim, frequently making dog attack cases complicated.
When considering the next step following a dog attack, many cases are burdened by the relationship between the dog owner and the victim. Often the dog owner is a friend or family member, but keep in mind that many dog attacks are covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy.
The Colorado Dog Bite Statute
Colorado has a state law that specifically addresses a dog owner’s liability for their pet. This statute, commonly called The Colorado Dog Bite Statute, is found in C.R.S. § 13-21-124(6)(a), (b).
The law makes dog owners liable for any “serious bodily injury or death” caused by their dog attacking someone else.
Dog owners are liable under this statute even if the dog never previously showed vicious or dangerous propensities. Similarly, the owner is liable even if he or she had no knowledge that the dog was likely to attack.
This state statute sets Colorado apart from many states where the “one-bite rule” may apply. Other states give dog owners the benefit of the doubt for the first attack by a pet. Instead, dog owners in our state are strictly liable for any serious injury that their dog inflicts on someone else by biting them.
Certain exceptions do apply to this statute, and it won’t protect people bitten while trespassing. It’s best to talk to a Colorado dog bite lawyer about the specific facts of your situation to determine how the Colorado Dog Bite Statute might apply in your case.
Besides the state law, many of Colorado’s cities and counties have enacted dog bite rules of their own. Examples include leash laws, muzzle laws, and regulations regarding specific breeds.
When a dog owner ignores local rules, they are considered “negligent per se.” Essentially, this is a legal concept that will deem an owner negligent (and therefore liable for damages their dog causes) simply because they violated a local law.
In negligence per se cases, it isn’t necessary to prove that the dog owner was negligent or that they owed you a duty of care. Rather, you only need to prove that they violated a local dog attack ordinance and that you suffered an injury in the attack.
Though there may be no violation of a local ordinance or law — and even if the Colorado Dog Bite Statute does not apply — you may still have a claim for ordinary negligence.
You may bring a traditional personal injury claim against the dog owner, alleging that he or she failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
In Colorado, dog attack claims based on negligence generally must prove that:
- The animal has vicious or dangerous tendencies, and
- The animal’s owner or keeper had knowledge (or notice) of those tendencies; and
- The owner or keeper failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries reasonably foreseeable, and
- You suffered damages.
Proving that an animal has dangerous tendencies might seem challenging but understand how this element is viewed under the law. While the word “vicious” might conjure up an image of a rabid dog who attacks everyone around it, the law in Colorado only requires you to prove that the dog has a disposition which may occasionally lead it to attack without provocation.
You may have a claim under the Colorado Dog Bite Statute, a negligence per se claim or a negligence claim – or a combination of the three. An experienced Colorado dog bite lawyer can help you understand whether you have a case under the different laws.
Dog Fright Claims
Sometimes, dogs attack without biting. While the Colorado Dog Bite Statute addresses dog bites, we want victims of animal attacks in our state to understand that even if you weren’t bitten, you still have rights.
Dogs can inflict serious damage through scratching, pouncing, charging, and other means of attack.
In some cases, dogs can cause serious or fatal injury with no physical contact. For instance, Colorado recognizes a dog fright claim, where a dog acts so aggressively that an individual reacts out of fear and is injured.
Such cases include dogs charging at bicyclists who then crash while trying to avoid the animal, or pedestrians so startled by a dog hurling itself against a fence that they back into oncoming traffic.
Other Dog Bite Legal Claims in Colorado
Colorado recognizes various other dog attack claims “outrageous conduct” claims and intentional tort claims, such as commanding a dog attack.
The most important thing to understand is that if someone else’s pet causes you injury while you are lawfully on public or private property, you have rights. The claims process can be complicated and challenging, but our office is here to help you through it at every turn.
Help for People with Serious or Catastrophic Dog Attack Injuries
Chalat Law is a boutique law firm, meaning we can provide each client a great deal of individual time, attention, and care.
When you call our office, you will talk directly with a dog attack lawyer. During business hours, our attorneys are available for immediate consultation when needed. Outside of business hours, we try to return your call or message quickly, often within a few hours (and always within the next business day).