Denver Dog Bite Attorney
Many people aren’t sure a dog bite attorney is a necessity after getting bitten by a neighborhood pet, but the right firm can help ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries.
Rightly laying claim to the title of “man’s best friend,” canines across Colorado provide large segments of the population with a great deal of companionship and fun. With the region’s endless supply of outdoor venues and stunning natural scenery in which to run freely with dogs, it should come as no surprise that a state is a wonderful place for these pets and those who love them. Unfortunately, there are times when dogs act in a manner which causes serious injury to innocent individuals, and attacks of this nature can lead to very real premise liability on the part of owners. If you or a loved one has suffered a severe dog bite and are experiencing the painful consequences of a handler’s negligence or an animal’s unchecked aggression, Denver dog bite attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is ready to explore the facts of your case and pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.
Colorado Dog Bite Law
In Colorado, victims of dog bites have the potential to recover compensation under typical grounds including negligence, violation of applicable animal control regulations, or knowledge of an animal’s propensity to attack. Furthermore, Colorado’s dog bite statute also provides for strict liability of dog owners, regardless of knowledge, for cases in which victims suffer serious bodily injury due to the bite itself, though the remedy is limited to medical costs only, should the victim only be able to establish liability on this particular basis.
For purposes of the strict liability provisions of the dog bite statute in Colorado, “serious bodily injury” encompasses harm such as:
- bone fractures
- significant risk of permanent disfigurement
- significant risk of impaired bodily function, including the internal organs
- serious burns
- significant risk of death
Typical Injuries in Denver Dog Bite Cases
While it is certainly true that dog attacks have the potential to impact people of all ages, children tend to sustain the lion’s share of injuries related to them. The harm suffered as a result of dog bites can affect a child for years to come, as it often combines both physical as well as psychological manifestations that may include anxiety disorders. Common injuries seen in dog attack victims include:
- puncture damage
- crush injuries
- deep lacerations
- nerve and tissue damage
- lasting disfigurement and scars
- dangerous infections
- serious sprains
- emotional disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety-related conditions
Responsibility of Colorado Owners to Prevent Dog Attacks
- keeping pets leashed when not on owner’s property
- addressing aggressive behavior when it first appears
- maintaining up-to-date vaccinations
- limiting animal’s contact with strangers
- placing printed warning signs on property to alert visitors of danger
Possible Exceptions to Dog Owner Liability
There are numerous fact patterns which could easily result a finding of negligence on the part of a dog owner following a serious attack, and it is equally important for everyone to realize that Colorado’s strict liability dog bite statute outlines only a very small number of circumstances in which an owner would not be held responsible for injuries produced by their animal. These consist of:
- situations in which the victim was a trespasser
- situations in which the dog bite occurred on the owner’s property and warning signs were posted
- situations where the victim can be shown to have provoked the animal
- instances in which the animal was officially aiding military or law enforcement personnel
- circumstances in which the victim was a professional dog handler, groomer, veterinarian or the like who was performing typical duties
- situations in which the animal was on its owner’s property and performing herding, farming or other types of work.
Compensation Available for Dog Bite Victims in Denver, CO
There can be no doubt that a vicious dog attack can have long-lasting ramifications for victims as well as those who love them. If any silver lining is to be found it is that the law offers those harmed by dog bites the opportunity to pursue significant financial compensation from responsible parties, which may include:
- past, present and anticipated future medical expenses
- costs of physical and emotional therapy and rehabilitation
- physical pain and suffering
- lost employment wages and reduced earning capacity
- loss of martial and other relationships
- costs of ongoing care and support services
- punitive damages in extreme cases
How to Proceed After an Attack Occurs
In order to stand the best chance at securing compensation following a dog attack, it is crucial for victims to take action as soon as possible. First, it is necessary to identify the dog’s owner and any insurance carriers potentially responsible for covering losses. Victims must immediately seek and receive all required medical treatment so that the extent of injury can be fully ascertained. Photographic evidence and witness statements should collected whenever possible, and it makes good sense to file a report with local authorities in order to begin developing an official record of what occurred. However, perhaps the most critical action to take following an attack of this nature is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Denver, CO, who can delve into the facts and explain your rights.
Settling a Case vs. Going to Court
In many cases, both parties involved in a civil claim will try to reach a negotiated settlement that works for both sides rather than taking the claim to court. There are some advantages that could make a settlement worth considering, even if it may mean slightly less money than if you won everything you could hope to in a court case.
Time is one of the most significant advantages of settling a claim. If you do choose to take a claim to court, it could very likely be months or even years before a final resolution is reached. For many people, this wait isn’t worth the slight potential increase in compensation they could receive.
When you settle a claim, the timing is determined by how willing and eager both parties are to move on from the case. This means that the claim could be settled relatively quickly in simple cases. Once a final agreement is signed by both parties, the funds are distributed according to the terms of the agreement. The standard in these cases is that the fund be paid within 30 days of finalization.
Another reason to consider settling a case instead of going to court is the level of risk involved. There is always the chance, even in the strongest of cases, that the court could rule against you should you decide to go down that path. In some cases, the risk of receiving no compensation might not be worth receiving slightly less than the maximum payout.
Whether or not a settlement makes sense for you will depend on the specifics of your case and what you’re being offered. However, if you are more risk-averse and want to receive your funds in a more timely fashion, then settling and avoiding court may be right for you. Your lawyer can inform you of the decision that’s in your interest.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer to Negotiate a Settlement for Me?
Some people would prefer to attempt to negotiate a settlement on their own without the help of an animal attack attorney in Denver, CO. While the instinct to take that option in an attempt to save money is understandable, it may result in you receiving less than you might with the help of an experienced Denver dog bite lawyer. There are a few benefits that come with allowing a lawyer to represent you in negotiations.
It’s important to remember that on the opposite side of these negotiations is often a large insurance company with powerful lawyers who spend the majority of their days handling these kinds of cases and negotiating settlements. Experience is valuable, and many capable, intelligent people have found themselves at a disadvantage in negotiations simply because they lacked the experience of a lawyer.
A personal injury attorney’s negotiating experience benefits you because the other side understands that your representative knows what to expect. The other party will realize that the things that might attempt to get away with when dealing with an inexperienced negotiator won’t work, and you can quickly move to more serious negotiations.
They may also recognize that the presence of a lawyer means that the possibility of the claim going to court is a very real threat. The desire to avoid this outcome can often be motivating and move negotiations toward a satisfactory outcome. With a Denver personal injury lawyer on your side, an insurance company won’t be able to take advantage of you by offering a low settlement.
Denver Dog Bite FAQs
Q: What Is Strict Liability?
A: “Strict liability,” in terms of dog bite claims, addresses the matter of whether or not dog owners need to be aware of the potential of their dog to bite. In some states, there is a so-called “one bite rule,” which means that the owner of a dog is not necessarily liable the first time that their dog bites someone. Strict liability means that an owner of a dog can be held liable for their dog’s bite, whether or not they have shown aggression before.
Q: Is Colorado a Strict Liability State for Dog Bites?
A: Colorado operates under strict liability rules but with a caveat. In the state, dog owners are only held strictly liable if the dog bite causes serious bodily injury or death. Serious bodily injury includes:
- A substantial risk of death,
- Breaks or fractures,
- Substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any organ or part of the body, or
- Substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
If the dog bite does not meet the threshold of “serious,” it will need to be considered under standard premises liability negligence.
Q: How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim?
A: In most cases, dog bites will be subject to the standard personal injury claim statute of limitations of two years. However, there could be some exceptions depending on a few different factors. To understand the deadline that will apply in your situation, it’s important that you speak with a Denver dog bite lawyer soon after your injury.
Q: What if a Child Provoked a Dog?
A: If it can be shown that the dog bite victim provoked the dog, the claim could be denied. This is true even when the victim is a child. A child who is bitten after tugging on a dog’s ear or tail or provoking the dog in another way is not likely to receive compensation in a civil claim. It’s important to watch young children closely, even when they are around familiar dogs, as both the child and dog could suddenly do something unsuspected that could lead to harm to the child.
Q: Which Dogs Are More Likely to Bite?
A: Some dogs are more likely to bite than others, and it’s important to be especially cautious around these kinds of dogs. Some particular traits to look out for include:
- Dogs without much training or socialization
- Guard dogs
- Dogs who are easily threatened or fearful
- Dogs who are generally very territorial
- Male dogs who haven’t been neutered
- Dogs suffering from medical issues
Contact A Denver Dog Bite Lawyer Today
A dog attack can be a truly terrifying, bewildering experience, and the consequences can range from temporarily disabling to profoundly tragic. Colorado law affords those harmed in this way the ability to seek full and fair compensation, though the time made available to do so is strictly limited. Victims must bring claims of this type within two years of the injury date or their opportunity to pursue payment for losses sustained will be forever forfeited.
Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is committed to offering clients the care and understanding injury victims need, together with the zealous advocacy they deserve at what is most certainly among the most difficult times in their lives. If you would like to pursue financial recovery following a serious dog bite event, contact us at 303.825.2223 for a no-cost initial consultation.