Denver Dog Bite Attorney
While they are often the cute, friendly best friends that we all love, dogs can also be vicious, and dog bites and attacks can cause serious harm. Dog bites can be anything from gentle nips to debilitating or fatal attacks that may permanently damage you or take your life. Our Denver dog bite attorneys at Jordan, Herington & Rowley have years of experience and can help you with your injury case.
Does Colorado Have a Specific Dog Bite Law?
States generally have two approaches to dog bites: they either follow a rule of “strict liability” or one of “negligence.” Colorado is unique in that it uses a mix of these two approaches.
For example, when a dog bite leads to a serious injury or death, a “strict liability” rule applies to the case to hold the owner of the animal liable. Under the theory of strict liability, a pet owner does not need to know their pet was dangerous to be legally responsible for the injuries it causes. Colorado law determines that the following constitutes a serious bodily injury:
- A substantial risk of impairment or permanent disfigurement.
- A substantial risk of death.
- Fractures, breaks, or burns in the second or third degree.
- Substantial risk of loss of function of any body part or organ.
Additionally, an owner will only be strictly liable for a dog bite’s victim’s injuries when the victim is lawfully on public property when the attack occurs. You may not be able to file a dog bite claim if you were trespassing on someone else’s property.
On the other hand, when a dog bite does not lead to serious or life-threatening injury, negligence rules apply. In this case, a victim of a dog bite must show that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care with regard to the animal, and this negligence directly led to injury.
Negligence claims also apply outside of dog bites. For example, if a dog knocked over a person and caused injury, he or she may seek damages in a negligence claim.
What Should I Do After I’m Attacked?
Your actions following an animal attack could affect your eventual dog bite claim. We recommend taking the following actions:
Seek appropriate medical care
- Your medical records will serve as official documentation of the injuries you suffered.
Ask to file a police report
- A police officer will document your version of the events and include any other pertinent information, such as eyewitness testimony.
Find a witness
- Ask any eyewitnesses to the accident for their contact information, such as name, phone number, and email.
Call an attorney
- Contact an experienced Colorado dog bite attorney. The attorneys at Jordan, Herington & Rowley will demand fair compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Who Is At Fault for a Dog Bite?
Generally, pet owners are responsible for the actions of their animals. In the case of serious injury, Colorado law holds pet owners responsible for any attacks regardless if they knew their pets were dangerous.
In some cases, the dog bite victim may share some of the fault for the attack under the rule of comparative negligence. This may apply if the victim was teasing or provoking the animal before the bite occurred.
What Determines My Damages?
Several factors can determine the damages you obtain following a dog bite. Generally, Colorado law allows for the following types of damages:
- These provide compensation for the material losses suffered as the result of your dog bite. Examples may include medical bills, lost wages, and the costs of any future medical expenses.
- This seeks to compensate for the non-economic or intangible losses associated with your experience. Examples include physical pain, emotional distress, or mental anguish resulting from the dog bite.
If a jury finds that you share fault for your injuries, this may affect your damages, as well. In this case, your award will decrease by your percentage of fault under the theory of comparative negligence. For example, if you seek $10,000 in damages but a jury finds you are 10% at fault for the bite, you will only receive $9,000.
Identifying Potentially Dangerous Breeds
In 2016, 31 deaths related to dog bites occurred in the United States. Pit bulls, specifically, were related to 22 of these deaths, even though they only account for about 6% of the dog population in the United States.
Pit bulls and Rottweilers, the two most aggressive dog breeds, were responsible for 77% of the attacks. In 2016, pit bulls, closely related dogs, American bulldogs, and Rottweilers were a part of 84% of all deaths that were related to dog bites.
A breed that is far more vicious than people realize, pit bulls are more dangerous than most other types of dogs. Over a period of 12 years, pit bulls killed 254 people in the United States. This amounts to killing about one American every 17 days.
Rottweilers, while still aggressive, killed only a fraction of that. They were responsible for 43 deaths over 12 years, which is one person every 102 days.
Labradors and mixes of Labradors were a part of three deaths in 2016. Six other breeds each had two deaths in 2016.
Preventing Dog Bites
The younger a child is, the more likely he or she is to be attacked by a dog. Because of their unwavering faith and trust in the seemingly cute animals, children are often more likely to approach a dog. Children under the age of 9 were 42% of all the victims of dog bites who died in 2016; 31% of all the deaths were infants between 3 and 6 days old.
Dog owners can do many things to help prevent their dogs from attacking anybody. Most dogs that attack in public places attack on trails or in front of their property. If you keep your dog on a leash whenever you leave your property, you can better control your dog if it starts to show signs of aggression.
Your yard or land should have a fence, gate, or system that will help confine your dog to that area. It should help keep your dog from attacking people who pass by. Visitors to your house should also have a safe way to reach your front door without being threatened by your dog. These are all things you must think about if you own a dog with aggressive tendencies.
If a dog comes toward you and you sense that it is going to be aggressive, do not run away. Keep your hands down and stay as quiet if you can. Also, try to avoid eye contact with the dog. In this way, you can appear nonthreatening to the dog, and it might lose interest in attacking you. Once the dog seems to have become bored with you and is paying attention to something else, you can back away slowly.
Dogs are a huge part of many people’s lives, but it is important to know the dangers of a possible attack. If you have been attacked by a dog and you believe it could’ve been prevented, contact our personal injury attorneys in Denver at Jordan, Herington & Rowley. We will help you get the justice you deserve.