Each year in Colorado during October and November, the various animal inhabitants of the state begin their journeys to the habitats where they reside during the winter. During these two months, the volume of wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) spikes. These WVCs are almost as costly as they are dangerous to those traveling on roadways. According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association, these specific types of accidents cost insurance companies a tidy sum of over $1 billion annually in the US.
Wildlife zone legislation and enforcement in CO
If you haven't observed the parade of signage while approaching the Colorado Department of Transportation's “wildlife crossing zones”, it is likely that you soon will. Legislation is now on the books which reduces speed limits and doubles the penalties for violators within these spans when the migration season officially commences on October 1st.
Woman loses arm in animal collision
A June 2016 lawsuit was filed in Denver's US District Court on behalf of Tamara Bryant, who seeks compensatory, and punitive damages against two local ranchers and the Colorado Department of Transportation. Bryant was traveling in a vehicle in Montrose County that had a dangerous collision with a dead cow, that had been killed in a collision which occurred prior to when her car encountered the carcass. The force of impact caused the vehicle to flip over, and resulted in the loss of her right arm and emotional ramifications further specified in the suit. The suit attacks the Defendants on three primary issues:
- The rancher who owned the cow had a herd of grazing upon Bureau of Land Management property without a proper license, which is illegal.
- A second Defendant is accused of subletting his permit to graze to the first, which is an illegal practice.
- The suit faults CDOT's failure to maintain roadway fencing; claiming it had deteriorated and thus insufficient in preventing animal access, resulting in multiple prior accidents.
Colorado fencing laws for livestock
- In the 1880's Colorado passed a “fencing” statute allowing landowners who install and maintain a fence in “lawful standards” to sue livestock owners whose animals trespass and cause damage. Those without such fencing are without any recourse.
- The landowner must prove that fence was intact and gateways were closed when the animal penetrated.
- The fencing standard is defined in C.R.S. 35 as “a well-constructed three barbed wire fence with support posts approximately every 20 feet, with gates of equal quality.”
- An analogy compares the needs of fencing to protect property in rural areas and urban areas alike. In urban areas you install fencing to prevent access to your pool or neighborhood dogs from passing through.
Seeking economic justice when victimized by someone's misconduct or negligence can get complicated. Those sustaining injuries should seek legal representation familiar with the complex intricacies, variables and defense tactics that insurance companies employ to protect their interests. Victims in Colorado seeking the best in advocacy for their case should call the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal for a complimentary case evaluation.