Colorado is one of those places where it seems like everyone you meet has a dog and everywhere you go is dog-friendly. But, sometimes, man’s best friend isn’t so friendly in return.
Imagine this: one day you’re out for your daily jog through your neighborhood, passing by the house with the aggressive dog who is usually contained by an electric fence. But on this day, the fence isn’t working properly so there’s nothing stopping Fido from leaving his yard. You’re not even paying attention to the to the dog as you jog past and then next thing you know, you’re on the ground and Fido’s on top of you.
Fido’s owner runs out of the house and pulls the dog off you, but the damage is done: a bite on your leg, a swollen ankle and a sore knee from the force of the fall.
Various versions of this scenario happen with more frequency than you might expect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States and 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected.
If you’ve been attacked and/or bitten by someone else’s dog, and through no fault of your own (meaning, you did nothing to provoke the animal), then you might be eligible to file a dog bite injury claim (aka, lawsuit) against the dog owner. A personal injury attorney can explain your rights and talk about what kind of compensation you might be entitled to, he/she can also build a case against the dog owner and represent you in court, if necessary.
Whether you’re a dog owner or you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, it’s a good idea for all Coloradans to understand what the law says about dog bites in our state.
1. Colorado and the One Bite Rule
You may have heard about the One Bite Rule, which is a common law rule that becomes relevant when a state doesn’t have a dog bite statute or in cases where the state’s statue doesn’t apply. The one bite rule allows a dog owner to assume his/her dog isn’t dangerous until the dog displays behavior that proves otherwise, like attacking and/or biting a person or another dog.
That being said, Colorado’s revised statute for dog bites (C.R.S. 13-21-124) means that the one bite rule no longer applies in all cases. If a dog bite causes serious bodily harm, a dog owner could be liable regardless of whether he/she knew the dog was dangerous.
2. Colorado’s revised statute for dog bites
Colorado’s dog bite statute (C.R.S 13-21-124) is a strict liability statute; this means that a dog owner could be held liable if his/her dog bites someone even if he/she was unaware that the dog was dangerous. This statute comes into play in cases where the dog bites someone who was lawfully on public or private property at the time and if the bite causes serious injury or death.
3. Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations for a dog bite (or other injury caused by a dog) in Colorado is two years. That means you have two years from the date the injury occurred to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner if you believe the owner is responsible for the injury. If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, the court can and likely will throw out the case.
Robinson & Henry’s personal injury attorneys are here to help with your dog bite lawsuit. Contact us at 303-688-0944 to request an assessment.