Most people have had positive interactions with canines in the past. Unfortunately, many also have experienced incidents that weren’t so positive. If you’ve been attacked by a dog or your pet is accused of harming someone, you’re likely wondering how Colorado’s dog bite law will affect you. Understanding this statute and what it means for your case is vital.

What Is Colorado’s Dog Bite Law?

Many states allow animal attack victims to sue a pet’s owner in a negligence lawsuit if they’re bitten or otherwise harmed. This is true in Colorado as well, but our state also has a statute specifically catered to dog bites. The law establishes when strict liability exists in an animal attack. This means the owner will be responsible for injuries even if they weren’t negligent.

The following are necessary to create strict liability:

  • The victim was lawfully on public or private property
  • A serious bodily injury was suffered in the attack

If these two elements are proven, the Colorado dog bite law imposes strict liability on the animal’s owner. No negligence needs to be proven at this point. However, it’s important to note that this law only allows for the recovery of economic damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.). Additionally, serious bodily harm only occurs when the most serious injuries are suffered.

What If Strict Liability Doesn’t Exist?

Not all dog bite cases in Colorado involve serious bodily harm. Even so, the victim may still have a valid legal claim. Just because an injured person didn’t experience grievous injuries does not mean they didn’t suffer damages. That’s why our state law allows animal attack victims to bring negligence claims against pet owners even when serious bodily injury does not occur.

The important thing to remember is that strict liabiliity does not exist in these cases. This means that victims must prove that the dog owner acted negligently in some way and that those acts caused injury. The benefit of a negligence lawsuit is that it allows for non-economic damages as well (e.g., pain and suffering, emotional distress). This is not possible under the strict liability Colorado dog bite law.

Are There Times When an Owner Isn’t Liable?

After an animal attack, both victims and pet owners are sometimes surprised to learn that Colorado dog bite laws don’t always result in personal injury damages. That’s because there are situations when the owner and their animal are not seen as negligent. Such instances include:

  • The victim was illegally on public or private property
  • The victim was legally on the property, but a warning sign was posted
  • The dog was a military or police animal performing its duties
  • The victim provoked the dog
  • The victim was a dog groomer, veterinarian, or another dog professional
  • The dog was engaged in activities such as hunting, herding, or predator control on the owner’s property

It’s also important to remember that Colorado dog bite laws still follow modified comparative negligence rules. Even if none of the aforementioned situations exist, a victim will likely be barred from recovering compensation if they’re deemed more than 50% at fault for their injury in a negligence case. Our law firm can help you understand your rights.

Do You Have a Valid Legal Claim?

This guide on Colorado dog bite law should give you a solid idea of whether you have a valid legal claim after suffering an animal attack. However, it’s important to remember that all cases are different. Additionally, you can likely expect a dog’s owner to claim that you were negligent in some way. This can reduce or even eliminate the potential compensation that victims are entitled to.

Contact us today to speak with a Denver dog bite lawyer who can help you better understand whether you may be entitled to substantial compensation.