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Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Colorado Springs
Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Colorado Springs

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a great place to be a dog and a dog owner. The city and surrounding area has a variety of parks, public areas, businesses and pet friendly trails that owner’s can enjoy with their dogs on-leash. There are also several on, and off-leash dog parks including dog runs for owners to take their four legged friends to let loose, and meet other dogs to play with. Unfortunately, just like humans, not all dogs get along with each other, or all humans.

The increase in pet friendly places has increased the number of dogs and humans interacting, this has also increased the risk of incidents between dogs and people. Animals are unpredictable, and dogs, who most owners consider members of the family, are still animals capable of inflicting wounds that can cause serious bodily injury their owners are strictly liable for. This article will help you understand Colorado’s dog bite laws, steps to take after a dog bite or attack and what qualifies as strict liability for dog bites in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Dog Bite Laws and Strict Liability

Colorado operates under strict liability for severe dog bites as stated in Colorado’s Revised Statutes, Section 13-21-124.

This means, regardless of whether the owner knows the dog has a history of aggression or not, that the dog owners are responsible for their dogs behavior and can be strictly liable for any injuries or property damage caused by their dogs.

Strict liability conditions for dog owners exist if a person, who was lawfully on public or private property, sustained serious bodily injury, or a fatality from being bitten, knocked down, or attacked. Also, if the conditions of strict liability are met, the injured persons economic damages become the liability of the dog owner without the injured person having to prove the owner was negligent.

However, it’s still a good idea to document any negligence by the owner to serve as evidence for a claim. If the dog related incident did not cause serious bodily injury, strict liability conditions do not exist and the “One Bite” Rule comes into play. The dog owner can assume their dog is not a danger until it proves otherwise but, if there is proof that the owner knew of their dog previously biting someone, and that their dog had a dangerous propensity to bite again, the dog owner is liable for the victims injuries and damages. This includes non-economic damages as well since it becomes a case of negligence and not strict liability.

What Expenses Are Covered by Strict Liability?

Colorado’s revised dog statute only allows economic damages to be recovered when strict liability applies to a dog bite incident. Included in economic damages are:

  • Medical bills – All medical expenses including the ones the victim’s insurance company does not cover.
  • Future medical expenses – In the event of ongoing treatment or long term care, future expenses regarding medical care need to be covered.
  • Therapy and counseling – Physical therapy may be necessary to the duration of injury recovery, as well as trauma counseling for the victim.
  • Loss of income – Compensation for lost wages incurred during the time needed to recover.
  • Loss of earning power – In the event the injury is severe enough to prevent the victim from working and earning a living.

Strict liability does not cover non-economic damages, they are only recoverable if a negligence action claim is brought against the dog owner. Both economic and non-economic damages can be claimed under negligence. Some of the non-economic damages victims may seek to recover from the dogs owner are:

  • Pain and suffering – From permanent injury
  • Grief and despair – From trauma
  • Loss of consortium – Spouse, companionship and intimacy
  • Emotional Distress – psychological harm

Except in the case of permanent physical disability, non-economic damages are capped limiting their recovery making further compensation difficult to acquire. Hiring a qualified Colorado Springs dog bite and animal attack attorney that knows the laws of strict liability as it applies to dog bites and is experienced with negligent dog owners, will give you the strong representation needed to get the settlement you deserve.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite in Colorado Springs

Colorado Revised Statute 25-4-603 requires dog bite victims and the dogs owners to notify Animal Control of a bite that breaks the skin within 12 hours of it occurring. Of course, if the bite is severe or has caused serious bodily injury, call 911 immediately for emergency medical assistance. Otherwise, contact the nearest county animal control agency to report the bite and local law enforcement to file a police report. You can also call Animal Law Enforcement which is run by the Pikes Peak Region Humane Society at (719)-302-8798.

It is very important to document as many relevant details, and as much information as you can while the incident is still fresh in your mind. This should include a summary of what happened, a description of the dog, and the owner’s information and insurance provider. Keep a copy of this information for your records as well. Once reported, the dog will be placed in a suitable quarantine for 10 days to watch for signs of rabies regardless of the dog’s vaccination status.

Having your wounds, even if they are not serious, treated by a doctor is a good idea. A dog’s bite that breaks or scratches the skin can cause a bacterial infection if it is not cleaned properly, and may require antibiotics to prevent infections. Having a doctor treat and document your injuries is vital for pursuing compensation after an attack.

Medical facilities are required to report dog bites that need a physician’s care to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. They will get the details of the incident from the doctor, so ensure you communicate them clearly and accurately to the doctor. Retain copies of any transcripts and your medical records, along with your medical bills and receipts to include with your claim.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Claim for a Dog Bite?

The Statute of Limitations in Colorado for personal injury claims is 2 years with little exception. This statute is strictly enforced by the state, victims have 2 years from the date of the dog bite injury to file a claim or bring a lawsuit, unless the victim is a minor injured prior to turning 18. Their 2 year limit begins at the age of consent and they will have until 20 to file a claim.

Who is Liable for Damages and Expenses After a Colorado Springs Dog Bite?

In Colorado, dogs are considered property. If you’ve been bitten and injured by a dog, a claim can be filed through the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to help you recover financial damages and expenses. Insurance companies however, will usually dispute claims and fight to pay as little as possible, an experienced Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer can handle aggressive insurance adjusters and ensure they give your claim fair value.

When is the Dog Owner Not Liable?

The dog owner is not liable to a person who suffers bodily injury from a dog bite while trespassing on private property or unlawfully on public property; when signs warning of a dangerous dog have been posted on the property; or when the injured person purposely aggravated and provoked the dog. The owner is also not liable if the person is a professional that works with dogs like a vet or a pet groomer; or while the dog is working to hunt, herd, farm, ranch, or control predators on the property of the dog owner. This also applies to owners of dogs “on-duty” with the police or military.

Contact a Colorado Springs Dog Bite and Animal Attack Attorney

If you were injured by a dog bite in Colorado Springs, whether or not strict liability conditions are met or the dog owner proved negligent, you are entitled to compensation. We understand the significant financial strain and costs that can arise from a severe animal attack, and will never settle for an offer that doesn’t adequately cover your expenses.

Our team of highly skilled attorney’s can provide you with the peace of mind you need and the expert legal representation you deserve. You can trust our knowledgeable and accomplished Colorado Springs dog bite and animal attack attorney to fight for your legal rights, and obtain the maximum settlement possible for your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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