Most dogs are as fun-loving as their owners, but even the friendliest dog can bite if provoked or threatened.
Some breeds are particularly dangerous. Pitbulls, especially, are responsible for more dog bites than any other breed. In fact, until November 2020, these breeds (specifically the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier) were prohibited in Denver.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you have legal rights to seek damages from the dog’s owner. We can help. The skilled Denver dog bite attorneys at Zaner Harden Law, LLP represent families just like yours in challenging dog bite cases. Contact us today at (720) 613-9706 for a free consultation about your case.
In 2021, 117 pit bull bites were reported to Denver Animal Protection. German shepherds and Labrador retrievers were the next most frequently reported, at 61 and 54, respectively.
The Colorado legislature passed the Dog Bite Law to protect people who have suffered what is considered a “serious bodily injury” from a dog. This law allows them to recover economic damages like medical bills or lost wages. Unfortunately, the Dog Bite Law limits recovery options for victims and is only applicable in particular situations.
Colorado’s Premises Liability Act provides another means of recovery; however, this law has several hurdles of its own. Compared to the Dog Bite Law, this action requires a much higher level of proof of culpability.
This generally means that the dog owner was (or should have been) aware that their dog was dangerous. Then, they failed to protect others. If the victim did not suffer a “serious” bodily injury, the Premises Liability Act may be the only means of recovery for the victim of a dog bite.
The interplay between the Dog Bite Law and the Premises Liability Act can confuse victims especially, but even some lawyers and judges. That’s why securing representation from an experienced Denver dog bite attorney who understands the laws thoroughly is crucial. A personal injury lawyer of this caliber will negotiate the laws for a fair settlement.
No, Colorado is a strict liability state for dog bites. A “one bite rule” is used in some states to give a dog who has never shown aggression before a “free pass” for biting one time before legal penalties apply to the owner and the dog is subject to being put down.
If a dog bites someone and causes serious injury or death, then the victim can file a suit for damages against the owner. Under Colorado’s strict liability laws, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the owner was negligent, just that the dog caused the injury.
Owning a “dangerous dog” can land someone either a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on whether the animal caused injury to another.
Section 18-9-204.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines dangerous dogs as one that:
Although Denver repealed the statute against owning a pit bull, the prohibitions against a dangerous dog remain in place.
Dog owners in Colorado have a duty of care to train their animal and ensure that it does not pose a danger to others around them by taking steps like these:
Most dog bites occur because the animal feels an imminent threat. Smaller children could inadvertently corner a dog, making it react. However, some dogs are naturally aggressive, either because they’re untrained or because the owner deliberately trains the dog to be an aggressive protector.
Dog bites have a high risk of infection, not just because of the bacteria in the animal’s mouth but also because the edges of a dog bite are uneven, ragged, and difficult to suture. Other dog bite injuries include:
A dog bite can cause extensive scarring, leaving the victim permanently disfigured. Sometimes, victims suffer secondary injuries, such as falling and breaking a bone after a dog lunges at them.
The emotional trauma after a dog attack can last a lifetime. Many people suffer from PTSD after a dog mauling, including developing a phobia of dogs or recurring panic attacks.
Protecting yourself after a dog bite is essential. You should visit an emergency room right away for rabies testing and treatment. The next steps include:
You only have two years from the date of the dog attack to file a personal injury suit, per the Colorado statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you are no longer eligible to seek compensation.
Colorado permits dog bite injury plaintiffs to seek three types of damages:
Economic damages are actual financial losses you suffered because of the attack, including:
Non-economic damages in a dog bite case are those which, although they cannot be priced, still have value. These include the pain and suffering from your injuries and consideration for your non-financial losses, like:
Punitive damages are financial punishment. It’s assessed by a Colorado judge who finds that the dog owner acted with gross disregard for the safety of others. In dog bite cases, punitive damages may be filed against an owner who has an off-leash dog with known aggression issues or one who deliberately trains the dog for fighting or attacking others.
Dog bite injury suits are unique among personal injury cases. Some people may fear repercussions from the dog owner, especially if the animal must be put down.
Look for a Denver dog bite attorney who is compassionate about the trauma you experienced, one who takes your case personally and seeks justice on your behalf. The right dog bite injury lawyer is familiar with Colorado laws regarding owner liability and isn’t afraid to litigate your case in court.
The skilled team with Zaner Harden Law, LLP has the resources, tenacity, and commitment to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
Dogs are classified as property in Colorado, so your claim is paid by the pet owner’s homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, commercial property insurance, or another type of property insurance.
However, the dog owner’s insurance agent may claim that you were to blame for the dog attack, a common tactic to avoid paying your claim. They could have you questioning your own behavior and second-guessing your actions leading up to the attack.
Trust your Denver dog bite lawyer to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. We don’t fall for these bullying tactics, and it’s our job to protect you, the victim.
Colorado’s dog bite statutes are governed under C.R.S 13-21-124. These laws set forth the responsibility of dog owners in the Centennial State and establish owner liability. In most dog bite cases, the owner is the liable party, even if they were not present at the time of the attack. Sometimes, a dog walker or handler may be found liable, too.
Colorado law lists six situations in which the owner may not be liable for a dog bite attack:
Proving liability in a dog bite case depends on proving the four elements of negligence:
The lawsuit process focuses on building a case to prove the four elements of negligence. We start with an independent investigation into the attack by looking at photos, interviewing witnesses, and using other tactics. We also look at the dog’s records – has it bitten before? Has the owner been issued citations or complaints from animal control?
Your medical records and journal of the impact that the dog mauling has had on your life are critical pieces of evidence in your case. The medical records establish the physical damage, and your doctor’s opinion on your recovery determines the value of your economic damages.
We try to settle out of court in mediation with the owner, but if they do not agree to a fair settlement, we take the case to court. Personal injury claims are handled in Colorado civil courts, not criminal.
Visiting the doctor right away not only gives you the best chance of recovery but also provides a critical piece of evidence in your case. Your medical records prove that your injuries were sustained from the dog attack and no other cause.
Our firm works on a contingency basis, meaning we only assess legal fees if we win your dog bite injury case. We discuss our fee structure and how this works during your initial consultation.
You aren’t required to have a lawyer to seek a settlement from the dog owner and their insurance company, but having legal representation often ensures that you’ll win your claim and receive a fair award.
We’ve found that dog owners typically put up a fight when it comes to paying their dog’s victims. They may tell their homeowner’s insurance company that you provoked the attack. However, once a lawyer gets involved, it becomes much harder for the owner and insurance company to place the blame on you. Our Denver dog bite attorneys know the laws about dog bite liability, and we understand how to prove your case.
At Zaner Harden Law, LLP both founding partners own dogs and love their pets dearly. This is why they understand the responsibilities that come with dog ownership. One of these responsibilities is ensuring the dog doesn’t put others in danger. Owners who do not take this responsibility seriously face legal repercussions in the event the dog injures someone.
We focus on results, delivering quality legal representation for victims like you in your time of need. We protect your rights and help you achieve financial justice. Attorneys with Zaner Harden Law, LLP have a demonstrated record of successful personal injury cases and over a dozen recent case results with $1 million + settlements.
Colorado law is clear – when you’ve suffered injuries from being attacked by a dog, you deserve to be made whole. Our skilled Denver personal injury attorneys will be your helpful guide and powerful advocate.
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