The United States Postal Service (USPS) released their annual report regarding dog attacks on U.S. mail carriers. Approximately 6,755 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2016, a 3% increase from 2015. Denver reportedly ranked #7 on the list with 47 incidents. USPS spokesman Mark Saunders says that larger cities have the highest frequency of incidents, attributed to greater population density. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 4.5 million dog bites occur annually. Nearly one of every five of these bites leads to an infection. The Denver Post estimated overall dog-related injuries were the cause of approximately one-third of liability insurance homeowner claims for 2016, with total costs approaching $600 million.
Colorado Laws of Dog Owner Liability
Individuals may seek damages from dog owners when they incur bodily injury or death resulting from a dog attack while lawfully on public or private property under Statute 13-21-124. This liability applies regardless of the owner’s prior knowledge of the dog’s tendencies to exhibit vicious or dangerous actions. Colorado classifies a dog as a domestic animal including a fox, coyote, jackal or wolf. Bodily injuries include bruising, tears in muscles, and lacerations of the skin requiring medical treatment, or corrective or cosmetic procedures. If it is determined that the dog owner was aware of the dogs dangerous or vicious tendencies, the court may order that the animal is euthanized by a veterinary professional at the owner’s expense.
When Dog Owners Are Not Liable
Circumstances where a dog attack would not result in owner liability include:
- The injured party is on the owner’s property which has two or more posted signs with warnings such as “trespassers beware” or “dog on premises” etc.
- If the dog is working on behalf of law enforcement or the military
- When the injured was determined to have provoked the animal
- If the injured party is operating in a professional capacity such as a veterinarian, groomer, humane society worker, dog trainer etc.
- When the animal is working performing duties such as hunting, herding, or the predatory property defense.
Tips: Dog Bite Prevention
Secure dogs in a separate room prior to opening exterior doors when a delivery person is present. Avoid receiving mail directly handed from a delivery person in the dog’s presence. If USPS mail carriers feel threatened by an animal; or if the dog is roaming loose without a restraint, they may request that owner’s retrieve their mail from the post office.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week
In efforts to heighten awareness of dog attack danger, the USPS named April 9-15 as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. This is designated to encourage training and continuing education on dog bite prevention nationally.
Contact an Attorney
Have you been injured as a result of a dog attack? Colorado law allows for recovery from damages such as medical costs, pain, and emotional distress. The Denver personal injury lawyers at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal defend the rights of injury victims by pursuing financial reparations through civil actions. Contact the office today at (303) 825-2223 for a free consultation.