Colorado Dog Bite Laws
Colorado Dog Laws
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Colorado Dog Bite Laws:
The laws surrounding dog bites in Colorado are not always clear, it can be quite hard to understand (unless you are a lawyer). This is unfair to both dog owners and people who are sadly bitten by dogs. Luckily, this article is here to explain it to you in terms that you don’t require a law degree to understand. Here is everything you need to know about the dog bite laws in Colorado and how they might affect you:
How long do I have to press charges?
You may have heard the phrase statute of limitations. This simply means how long can pass before a crime is no longer punishable. If you steal a car in Colorado the statute of limitations is about 5 years. This means after 5 years even if someone can prove you did steal the car, you cannot be sent to prison or even arrested (in some cases you still can). When it comes to dog bites the statute of limitations is just 2 years from the date it happened. This means that if you are bitten and you fail to press charges within two years it’s too late. Even if you can prove their dog bit you, they won’t have to pay you a penny. That’s why hiring a dog bite attorney is so important, they can make sure you have received your compensation before it is too late.
The difference between negligence and liability:
There are two legal terms for when someone is at fault. Those terms are negligence and liability. Many states choose to use one term or the other, however, colorado uses both. This may seem annoying and confusing (because it is), but there is also some good logic behind it. Here is what both of these terms mean and why they matter in dog bite law.
Liability means they are totally at fault, regardless of circumstance. It doesn’t matter if they had no idea where their dog was, their dog was in their yard and jumped the fence to bite you, or their owner wasn’t even in the country and their dog decided to bite someone under someone else’s supervision. This is defined as a dog biting someone and causing a serious bodily injury. These injuries are as follows:
Loss or impairment of a bodily function. Organ, muscular, etc.
Risk of serious disfigurement
Risk of death
If any of these apply to the dog bite victim the owner has no legal case whatsoever they are always found 100% at fault. So long as the biting occurred on public property, like the park. Or private property that they are on lawfully, like if your friend invites you over for dinner and their dog bites you.
If the dog bite is not fatal, there is bruising and cuts but no risk of serious injury, then the owner will be found negligent. This means they are at fault of failing to take proper care of or properly restrain their dog. In this case, the owner may not have as strict a punishment handed down. Additionally, negligence is the term used when an injury is caused by a dog but it isn’t a bite. For example, if a dog knocked down an elderly lady and she broke her arm. This is negligence on the owners part for failing to restrain their dog.
When is a dog not at fault for biting someone?
Sometimes the dog is not at fault. Sure, it may have bit you and caused you damage but the dog is still not at fault. Sometimes whether or not the dog is not at fault can be contested. For example, a dog biting you when you were trespassing on someone’s property, but you didn’t know it was their property because of poor signing. When a dog bite falls under the liability category, the dog owner will be found at fault regardless of the circumstances most times. However, when the dog bite falls under negligence the dog owners can use the following arguments as their defense:
Dogs performing law enforcement or military duties cannot be found at fault for biting someone. If you are a criminal and a police dog bites you to stop you running, you aren't going to be able to press charges. Unless the dog bite falls under any of the liability criteria. Then you might have a case.
If a dog bites someone performing an animal service, like a vet or groomer, they are willingly putting themself at risk of being bitten. It comes with the job. However, if the dog bit them and disfigured their arm then the owner would be found at fault. Vets are not signing up to be attacked by poorly trained or abused dogs.
A dog working as a hunting or ranch dog is not at fault for biting someone who crosses their path. Unless of course, their bite does permanent damage. There is no excuse for these dogs to attack that maliciously. Especially if you didn't know you were on someone's ranch/hunting grounds.
If you are on someone else's property and they have clear signs stating that, their dog is not going to be found at fault. However, if the signs are unclear then they might. Furthermore, if you were knowingly on their property and their dog caused permanent damage to you they will likely still be found liable. These cases can be very complicated and you absolutely will need a dog bite lawyer.
If the person who was bitten provoked the dog into biting them, the dog and its owner will not be found liable or negligent. The only time you may be able to make a case here is by arguing that the dog's reaction was out of proportion to the provocation. You will need a lawyer for this case 100% of the time. You will have a very weak argument at best.
Should I hire a dog bite attorney?
Some cases may seem pretty straightforward, and they might be, but yes you need a dog bite attorney. If you don’t have a lawyer and the dog owner does, you are going to lose the case. They are going to make such complex legal arguments that you won’t understand and you will sadly lose out on your owed compensation. The cost of hiring a dog bite lawyer is minimal, additionally many don’t even take payment upfront. They will just take a portion of the settlement. And there will be a settlement.