Dog ownership is extremely popular and a way of life for many people. However, if your dog bites another person, you may be liable for thousands of dollars in damages.
If you own a dog, are considering getting one or have been injured by a dog bite, here's what you need to know about Colorado's dog bite law(s).
While the majority of states either use a “strict liability” or “negligence” rule in dog bite cases, Colorado has passed a combination approach (both strict liability and negligence).
If a dog bite leads to serious bodily injury or death, then the owner of the dog will be strictly liable for any economic damages caused by the dog bite. This is true, regardless of whether the dog owner knew that their dog was vicious, had the propensity to bite or not. Economic damages include medical bills and loss of income associated with the dog bite injury. It does not include compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress.
In order to constitute a serious bodily injury for purposes of the strict liability statute, the injury must cause:
- A substantial risk of death at the time of the injury or in the future;
- A substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement;
- A substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body; or,
- Breaks, fractures or burns in the second or third degree.
For the strict liability statute to apply, the person injured must be legally permitted on public or private property at the time of the incident. And the statute only applies to dog bites. For example, if an aggressive dog did not bite you but the animal's conduct caused you to slip-and fall, you cannot use the strict liability statute to recover for your injuries.
On the other hand, if your dog-related injury is less serious or does not qualify as a serious bodily injury by law, then you can sue the dog owner on a theory of negligence. Under these circumstances, you will need to show that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care in controlling or restraining their dog, and as a result, you were injured (due to a dog bite or other dog-related injury).
Unlike Colorado's strict liability statute, your negligence claim can apply to other injuries other than a bite caused by the dog. For example, if the dog knocked you down and you were injured, you can sue for damages on a theory of negligence. Similarly, when you sue for negligence, you are not limited to the recovery of only economic damages. You will be permitted to seek non-economic damages (like pain and suffering as well as emotional distress).
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you should consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney right away. The personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal have represented numerous clients who have been bitten or otherwise injured by dogs, and we will fight to get you compensation for your injuries. Call us today for a free consultation at (303) 825 – 2223, or visit us online. You have nothing to lose with a free consult!