It’s no secret that Coloradans love dogs. As a matter fact, Colorado ranks first as the nation’s top dog loving state.

But in a place with a lot of dogs — like a trail or dog park — accidents can happen. A stressed or frightened dog can get defensive or aggressive. Before you know it, a peaceful day at the dog park could end with a dog.

Along the Front Range, about 8 dog bites are reported every day. Children and senior citizens are the most likely to be victims of dog bites, and 1 in 5 people bitten by dog have to get medical treatment.

Dogs can also be victims of bites from other dogs. If you, a family member, or your dog has been bitten, you first want to make sure to treat the bite properly, and seek medical attention if necessary.

Once you’ve taken care of the injury, it’s important you know your rights in the case of a dog bite. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries and related treatment. This is where a civil attorney can help.

Read on to learn more about your rights if you or your dog are bitten.

Colorado’s Bite Law

The state of Colorado has its own specific dog bite law, which is more strict than many other states.

Most importantly, Colorado’s law places strict responsibility on the dog owner for any injury caused by their dog.

Here are the basic takeaways for dog bite laws in Colorado:

1. The dog owner specifically is responsible for injury caused by his/her dog

• A dog walker or handler is not responsible. Any lawsuit would be against the owner of the dog.

2. The law only covers economic damages that occur as a result of “serious bodily injury.”

• If you have to spend money on hospital bills or lose income at work due to your injury, a lawsuit could recover this money for you.
• This law only applies in the case of physical injuries, not emotional or mental injuries.

3. You only have a right to pursue a lawsuit against the dog owner if the bite occurred while you were lawfully on public or private land.

• If you are in a dog park on the street, or at someone’s house (with their permission), you have a case.
• On the other hand, if you were bitten while trespassing or on private property without permission, you don’t have a right to receive compensation.

4. If you were physically attacking the owner or handler of the dog before being bitten, you probably don’t have a case.

• Your actions will be seen as instigating the dog bite.

5. If you work in a dog-related industry (trainer, groomer, veterinarian, etc.), you cannot bring a lawsuit against the owner.

• This usually is also the case if you work with dogs in the military or a police department. You assume the risk with the job.

More Dog Laws in Colorado

There are a few other specific instances you should know about, especially if the law as described above doesn’t quite fit your case.

Proving Negligence

This law requires that everyone try their best to avoid injuring others, even in the case of accidents.

Even if you can’t recover money as a result of a dog bite, you can see that the owner is punished and/or the dog is euthanized if you can prove the animal is dangerous, and that the owner knew about the dog’s dangerous tendencies before the bite occurred.

Denver’s Leash Law

In Denver specifically, the city has a leash law that requires dog owners to keep a dog under control and on a leash at all times. Exceptions to this law include being at home, at a dog park or any other place that is an “off-leash” area.

If the owner fails to abide by the leash law, this could be used as grounds for proving negligence.

Landlord Responsibility

If a tenant’s dog bites another tenant or their dog, the landlord could be found responsible if they knew the dog was dangerous prior to the attack. Colorado has a history of finding landlord’s responsible in such cases.

There are a lot of situations that could lead to a dog bite. Not every dog bite means the animal can be seen as dangerous under the law. It also doesn’t mean the owner was breaking any law.

If you’ve been sued over your dog biting a person or another dog, you have rights just like the victim does.

Whether you’re the victim of a dog bite or you’re the owner of a dog that’s bitten someone, talk to a skilled attorney to understand your rights. Contact us to learn how you can protect yourself or your dog today >

Contact Rogers & Moss for your free, no-risk, consultation.