We Handle Dog Bite Lawsuits in Fort Collins, CO
Whether you encounter a vicious dog off its leash or your child gets bitten while trying to pet a neighborhood dog, you may have the right to file a dog bite lawsuit. Hadfield Stieben Doutt has extensive knowledge and experience as dog bite injury attorneys, and we can help you navigate the process to get compensation for your personal injury. We understand the many situations that apply to these cases, who is liable for damages, and how to proceed with your claim. If you’ve suffered a dog bite in Fort Collins or anywhere in Northern Colorado, let us help you achieve the best outcome in your personal injury lawsuit.
How Dog Bites Can Happen
Dog bites are unpredictable, and they can occur in any setting. Many of our clients who were victims of dog bites were bitten by dogs with no previous signs for a propensity of danger. There are still some cases when a dog bite came from a vicious dog with previous indications that they’re vicious or dangerous. No matter what the dog’s personality is like, a dog bite is still serious, and it can result in disfigurement and permanent injuries. Dog bites typically occur when a dog is surprised or scared, and it may bite in an effort to defend itself. You can suffer a dog bite on any body part, but it usually happens on the face or extremities. Dog bites on the face typically occur when a person bends down to pet an animal, as well as other situations that bring them face-to-face with a dog. Some dogs may also bite if they’re off their leash and feel threatened by a cyclist or pedestrian. Whatever the case may be, your best action after receiving an injury like this is to contact Hadfield Stieben Doutt to speak with a dog bite lawyer.
Signs You Shouldn’t Approach a Dog
There are telltale signs to look for that indicate you should not approach a dog. You might see posted warnings like “Beware of Dogs” signs that dog owners put up. Other ways to protect yourself from getting bitten by a dog include the following:
- Be wary of any dog you’ve never met. Often when a dog attacks, it’s because you’re a stranger and they don’t know you. Avoid petting a dog you’ve never met without getting the owner’s permission. Even with permission, you’ll pet the dog at your own risk.
- Be sure to leash your own dogs and avoid dogs that are off-leash. Most local governments have leash laws that require dogs to be on a leash while in public. Follow your local leash law and stay away from confronted dogs that are off-leash.
- Never put yourself face-to-face with a dog. Children are commonly bitten because of a lack of self-awareness when they’re around a dog. They come face-to-face with dogs due to their height similarity or because bending down to pet a dog is easy. Dogs may take this as a threat, which can result in a dog bite.
- Keep your distance from fenced dogs. If you provoke a dog on the other side of a fence, they can become aggressive and bite you in self-defense. Don’t reach over a fence to pet a dog and never look over a solid fence. You risk getting bitten on your hand or face when you don’t know where the dog is located.
Is There a Specific Dog Bite Law in Colorado?
While there isn’t a federal law that pertains to dog bites, city, county, and state law will combine to enact it. The dog bite law in Colorado imposes strict liability on a dog owner when a victim suffers serious bodily injury. In these cases, the dog owner may be required to pay full damages. They may also be liable for lesser injuries. In either case, dog owners can be held liable for negligence or violating an animal control law under the one-bite rule. The one-bite rule applies to situations based on whether the dog’s owner has any previous knowledge of how dangerous it can be. In these cases, a plaintiff needs to prove that the dog has bitten someone before, and the owner was aware of their dog’s previous conduct.
How is Liability Determined in Dog Bite Cases?
When deciding which party is at fault in a dog bite lawsuit, we must determine who owns the offending dog. Like many other states, Colorado imposes strict liability upon a biting dog’s owner. And according to the legal theory, the owner is liable when their animal bites someone, even if they are not aware of the animal’s propensity to be vicious or dangerous, or the dog’s tendency to attack. While it provides for strict liability, the state’s dog bite statute only applies to serious bodily injuries, which relies upon restrictive definitions. Additionally, a victim’s case can only recover for economic damages if it relies solely on Colorado’s dog bite statute.
Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries
A dog bite can cause serious injuries, which can permanently damage or disfigure you. If a dog bites you, reach out to a dog bite injury attorney at HSD Law to learn what compensation you may be entitled to and how to proceed with your case. We are well-versed in handling dog bite lawsuits of all types. Common injuries from dog bites include:
- Puncture Wounds
- Permanent Disfigurement
Your Dog Bite Claims
According to Colorado dog bite law, “[a] person who suffers serious bodily injury or death from being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property shall be entitled to bring a civil action to recover economic damages against the dog owner regardless of the viciousness or dangerous propensities of the dog or the dog owner’s lack of knowledge of the dog’s viciousness or dangerous propensities.”
Serious bodily injury is defined as “bodily injury which, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves a substantial risk of death, 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 of the second or third degree.”
A dog owner is not liable in the event of a dog bite when any of the following occurs:
- When a person is on private or public land illegally.
- When a person is on the dog owner’s property, and it’s marked with one or more clear and conspicuous signs that state “beware of dog” or “no trespass.”
- While the dog is being used by military personnel or a peace officer while performing military or peace officer duties.
- When a dog bite occurs as a result of a person intentionally provoking a dog.
- When a person is a dog groomer, trainer, professional dog handler, veterinary health care worker, dog show judge, or humane agency staff person who is performing their respective duties.
- While the dog is working as a farm or ranch dog, herding dog, predator control dog, or hunting dog on the dog owner’s property or under their control.
Understanding a Dog Owner’s Liability
In Colorado, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for any economic damages that are the result of a dog bite. This liability includes lost wages and medical bills. Emotional stress, pain and suffering, and permanent disfigurement are considered non-economic damages. They are not determined in accordance with strict liability, but instead, depend on the circumstances applying to how the bite occurred. Landowners renting their property to tenants are only liable in certain cases. This includes when a landlord had actual knowledge of a dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities before entering into a lease agreement with the dog’s owner as a tenant. When a dog bites you, your claim is serious and can be difficult to prove in some cases. Our attorneys can help you with your dog bite lawsuit and pursue the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to speak with a dog bite injury attorney.