We advocate for the responsible ownership, training, fencing, and leashing of dogs. Our lawyers are loving and responsible dog owners. In fact, our dogs, Walter, Boston, and Bella, are members of our law firm family. However, some people are not responsible dog owners and fail to train, fence, or leash their dogs. This oftentimes leads to dangerous dog attacks of parents and children in homes, at parks, and on sidewalks in your neighborhood.
A dog bite can lead to serious injuries ranging from bite marks and puncture wounds to permanent disfigurement, broken bones, loss of limbs, and even death. Many people, especially children, experience emotional distress following a dog attack. If you are a victim of a dog bite, it is important to call law enforcement and open an animal control investigation.
There are also various ways under Colorado law to hold responsible parties accountable for dog bite injuries. One way is under Colorado's strict liability statute relating to civil actions against dog owners (“dog bite statute”), or Colorado Revised Statute Section 13-21-124. This statute allows a person who suffers serious bodily injury or death from being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property to bring a claim for economic damages against the dog owner. Importantly, since this is a strict liability statute, this means that the dog owner will be responsible regardless of whether the dog had been vicious or injured someone else in the past and regardless of whether the dog owner knew of the dog's viciousness. In other words, negligence is not required in order to prove strict liability.
Under Colorado's dog bite statute, there are only 6 specific listed circumstances where the dog owner will not be liable, which include the following:
- If the victim was attacked while trespassing;
- If the attack occurred while the victim was on the dog owner's property and the property is clearly marked with a sign stating, “no trespassing” or “beware of dog.”
- If the attack occurred while the dog was being used by a peace officer or military personnel in the performance of official duty;
- If the victim knowingly provoked the dog;
- If the victim is a vet, dog groomer, humane agency staff, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge acting in the scope of his respective duty; or
- If the attack occurred while the dog was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, farm or ranch dog, or predator control dog on the property of the dog's owner.
If you or your child sustained a serious injury from a dog bite, you may be able to recover from the dog owner's renter's or homeowner's insurance. It is recommended that you contact a lawyer to assist you to discuss any available sources of recovery and guide you through the process.
Our lawyers have knowledge of your municipal and city codes related to dog ownership, fencing and leashing. We are skilled at investigating these types of injuries and understand the long-term injuries our clients experience.
Even though they are said to be “man's best friend,” dog bites and dog attacks in Colorado are fairly common. The experience alone can be traumatizing even when the injury itself may not be significant. Victims who have been hurt deserve to be fully compensated for their injuries, including any pain and suffering.
At Hagen Nares PLLC, our dog bite injury attorney in Colorado will make sure you get full and fair compensation. We know the law. We know the community. We know how to deal with insurance companies and other potentially liable parties. Contact us at 720-772-8513 to schedule a Free Consultation to learn more about how we will help you during this traumatic time.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur every single year. Those bites, however, come in a wide variety of severities, with only about one in five – 885,000 of them – requiring medical attention. Fatalities from dog bites are rare, but do occur occasionally.
Examples of Why Dogs Bite
Dogs bite people in Colorado and elsewhere for many reasons. Some of the most common include:
- The dog is chained or otherwise in some kind of stressful situation.
- The dog is trained to attack.
- The dog feels scared or threatened or is otherwise provoked.
- The dog has experienced abuse in the past.
- The dog wants to protect itself, its guardians, or its puppies.
- The dog is ill.
Provocation and Dog Bites
It is important to note, though, that regardless of why the dog barked, you are not at fault unless you in some way provoked the dog. Provocation is pretty much any act that causes an immediate and radical change in the dog's behavior. It can include but is not limited to:
- Hitting the dog
- Trapping the dog in a small space
- Pulling on its tail, legs, ears, or fur
- Stepping on its tail
If you provoked the dog, then the other party may be able to blame you for the attack. As such, it is important to note what is not necessarily considered provocation in the event the defendant tries to claim it:
- Walking toward a dog
- Walking towards and/or addressing the owner
- Being seating and getting up to face the dog
- Reaching to pet the dog
- Playing with and petting the dog
- Feeding a dog
- Extending a hand over or through a fence
- Transporting the dog when it is injured
Provocation may be determined by the overall circumstances, and so again, that is why contacting a dog bite attorney in Colorado may be critical because the outcome of the case can turn on how the facts and circumstances are argued.
What to Do If Attacked by a Dog in Colorado
When a dog bites or attacks a person, the injury could be serious. There are a few things you will want to do to protect yourself.
- It's always important to get medical attention immediately.
- Be sure to obtain the dog owner's contact information, homeowner's or renter's insurance information, and proof of rabies vaccination.
- If there were any witnesses to the attack, make sure to collect their names and contact information, too.
- Take photos of the scene and the injury.
- Contact the police or your local animal control agency.
The most important thing if attacked or bitten by a dog is your personal safety. Take all precautions to get help as soon as possible.
Most Damaging Dog Bites by Breed
The breed may matter in terms of the severity of the dog bite. The most damaging dog bites by breed are unknown, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, because the breed of the dog causing the injury was unknown. The breeds that follow the “unknown” category for most damaging bites include:
- Pit bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German shepherds
Other dog breeds with the capability to cause severe injuries which were less likely to bite as compared to the above-listed breeds are Great Danes and Akitas. Bite severity was assessed according to wound size, tissue tearing, bone fractures, and other injuries severe enough to require facial trauma or reconstructive surgery.
Common Injuries from Dog Attacks in Colorado
The injuries that victims can suffer in a dog attack can be severe and life-changing. Some of the most severe include:
- Severe lacerations, often requiring numerous stitches or sutures
- Serious infections
- Nerve damage
- Dismembered fingers
- Partial paralysis
- Chronic pain
These are just the physical symptoms that a dog bite victim has to live with. Victims frequently experience emotional distress and mental anguish from the attack as well. In some severe cases, it can even amount to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Children are the Most Vulnerable
Children are the most likely to be hurt in a dog attack, especially young children under the age of 4. These children do not understand how dangerous a dog can be. Many of them think that all dogs are friendly and may approach a strange dog to pet it without their parents or the dog's owner noticing until it is too late.
Unfortunately, these are the very victims that are most likely to suffer the worst consequences of a serious dog bite. Not only is the mental anguish of a dog attack likely to haunt them more intensely than it would an adult, but the physical injuries that a child suffers are more likely to have serious long-term repercussions on their growth and development.
Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Colorado
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from another person's dog, the owner may be held accountable for the injury and, thus, liable for compensation. At Hagen Nares PLLC, our dog bite injury attorney in Colorado wants to make sure members of our community who have been injured or who have had, in rare circumstances, a loved one die from a dog attack are fully compensated. Contact our office at 720-772-8513 to schedule a Free Consultation and get a better understanding of your specific dog bite injury case.