Denver Personal Injury Lawyers

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Denver Dog Bite Attorney

Denver dog bite attorney

Most dogs are as fun-loving as their owners, but even the friendliest dog can bite if provoked or threatened.

Some breeds are particularly dangerous. Pitbulls, especially, are responsible for more dog bites than any other breed. In fact, until November 2020, these breeds (specifically the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier) were prohibited in Denver.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you have legal rights to seek damages from the dog’s owner.

We can help. The skilled Denver dog bite attorneys at Zaner Harden Law, LLP represent families just like yours in challenging dog bite cases. Contact us today at (720) 613-9706 for a free consultation about your case.

Zaner Harden Law, LLP also handles other personal injury matters including Denver car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, Denver brain injuries, workplace accidents, wrongful death claims, and more.

Colorado dog bite laws

denver dog bite lawyer - Zaner Harden Law, LLP - 1610 Wynkoop Street Suite 120 Denver, CO 80202In 2021, 117 pit bull bites were reported to Denver Animal Protection. German shepherds and Labrador retrievers were the next most frequently reported, at 61 and 54, respectively.

The Colorado legislature passed the Dog Bite Law to protect people who have suffered what is considered a “serious bodily injury” from a dog. This law allows them to recover economic damages like medical bills or lost wages. Unfortunately, the Dog Bite Law limits recovery options for victims and is only applicable in particular situations.

Colorado’s Premises Liability Act

Colorado’s Premises Liability Act provides another means of recovery; however, this law has several hurdles of its own. Compared to the Dog Bite Law, this action requires a much higher level of proof of culpability.

This generally means that the dog owner was (or should have been) aware that their dog was dangerous. Then, they failed to protect others. If the victim did not suffer a “serious” bodily injury, the Premises Liability Act may be the only means of recovery for the victim of a dog bite.

The interplay between the Dog Bite Law and the Premises Liability Act can confuse victims especially, but even some lawyers and judges. That’s why securing representation from an experienced Denver dog bite attorney who understands the laws thoroughly is crucial. A personal injury lawyer of this caliber will negotiate the laws for a fair settlement.

Does Colorado follow the one-bite rule?

No, Colorado is a strict liability state for dog bites. A “one bite rule” is used in some states to give a dog who has never shown aggression before a “free pass” for biting one time before legal penalties apply to the owner and the dog is subject to being put down.

If a dog bites someone and causes serious injury or death, then the victim can file a suit for damages against the owner. Under Colorado’s strict liability laws, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the owner was negligent, just that the dog caused the injury.

Denver’s ordinance regarding dangerous dogs

Owning a “dangerous dog” can land someone either a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on whether the animal caused injury to another.

Section 18-9-204.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines dangerous dogs as one that:

  • Kills or injures another person, or a domestic animal (such as someone else’s pet)
  • Demonstrates dangerous tendencies that indicate the dog could likely injure or kill another person or domestic animal
  • Is trained for or participates in illegal animal fighting

Although Denver repealed the statute against owning a pit bull, the prohibitions against a dangerous dog remain in place.

Responsibility of Colorado dog owners in preventing dog attacks

Dog owners in Colorado have a duty of care to train their animal and ensure that it does not pose a danger to others around them by taking steps like these:

  • Correct aggressive tendencies early
  • Always leash your dog. Denver requires all dogs to be on leashes unless the animal is on the owner’s property
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations current, following requirements outlined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Keep your dog away from strangers; animals can be unpredictable around people or other dogs they don’t know
  • Place warning signs on your property if your dog shows aggressive tendencies, and consider locking the gated area or pen where you keep the dog

Dog bite injuries and causes

Most dog bites occur because the animal feels an imminent threat. Smaller children could inadvertently corner a dog, making it react. However, some dogs are naturally aggressive, either because they’re untrained or because the owner deliberately trains the dog to be an aggressive protector.

Dog bites have a high risk of infection, not just because of the bacteria in the animal’s mouth but also because the edges of a dog bite are uneven, ragged, and difficult to suture. Other dog bite injuries include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Facial scarring and eye damage
  • Neck and head injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Rabies and other diseases

A dog bite can cause extensive scarring, leaving the victim permanently disfigured. Sometimes, victims suffer secondary injuries, such as falling and breaking a bone after a dog lunges at them.

The emotional trauma after a dog attack can last a lifetime. Many people suffer from PTSD after a dog mauling, including developing a phobia of dogs or recurring panic attacks.

denver dog bite attorney

Steps to take after a dog bite injury

Protecting yourself after a dog bite is essential. You should visit an emergency room right away for rabies testing and treatment. The next steps include:

  • Take photos of your injuries and the scene of the attack
  • Gather witness information and the contact information of the dog owner or handler
  • Report the dog bite to Denver Animal Control
  • Make notes of the events leading up to the dog attack (was it off a leash, were you jogging or riding your bike, etc.)
  • Contact a dog bite lawyer from Zaner Harden Law, LLP

Don’t miss the deadline to file your injury claim

You only have two years from the date of the dog attack to file a personal injury suit, per the Colorado statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you are no longer eligible to seek compensation.

Possible damages you can claim

Colorado permits dog bite injury plaintiffs to seek three types of damages:

Economic

Economic damages are actual financial losses you suffered because of the attack, including:

  • Emergency medical treatment and aftercare, like physical therapy or surgery
  • Mental health counseling and PTSD therapy
  • Lost wages from time missed at work to recover from the injury
  • Property damage, if the dog also mauled your belongings

Non-economic

Non-economic damages in a dog bite case are those which, although they cannot be priced, still have value. These include the pain and suffering from your injuries and consideration for your non-financial losses, like:

  • Emotional trauma and mental distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive

Punitive damages are financial punishment. It’s assessed by a Colorado judge who finds that the dog owner acted with gross disregard for the safety of others. In dog bite cases, punitive damages may be filed against an owner who has an off-leash dog with known aggression issues or one who deliberately trains the dog for fighting or attacking others.

How to find the right dog bite injury lawyer for your needs

Dog bite injury suits are unique among personal injury cases. Some people may fear repercussions from the dog owner, especially if the animal must be put down.

Look for a Denver dog bite attorney who is compassionate about the trauma you experienced, one who takes your case personally and seeks justice on your behalf. The right dog bite injury lawyer is familiar with Colorado laws regarding owner liability and isn’t afraid to litigate your case in court.

The skilled team with Zaner Harden Law, LLP has the resources, tenacity, and commitment to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

We’ll fight the insurance company to get you the maximum compensation

Dogs are classified as property in Colorado, so your claim is paid by the pet owner’s homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, commercial property insurance, or another type of property insurance.

However, the dog owner’s insurance agent may claim that you were to blame for the dog attack, a common tactic to avoid paying your claim. They could have you questioning your own behavior and second-guessing your actions leading up to the attack.

Trust your Denver dog bite lawyer to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. We don’t fall for these bullying tactics, and it’s our job to protect you, the victim.

Parties who may be liable for your injury

Colorado’s dog bite statutes are governed under C.R.S 13-21-124. These laws set forth the responsibility of dog owners in the Centennial State and establish owner liability. In most dog bite cases, the owner is the liable party, even if they were not present at the time of the attack. Sometimes, a dog walker or handler may be found liable, too.

Possible exceptions to dog owner liability in Colorado

Colorado law lists six situations in which the owner may not be liable for a dog bite attack:

  • The victim was unlawfully on private or public property
  • The victim was on the dog owner’s property, and the property is clearly marked with dog warning signs
  • The dog is military or police trained and is “on duty”
  • The victim knowingly provoked the dog
  • The victim is a veterinarian or engaged in other dog-related employment, and the bite occurred in the course of the victim’s job duties
  • The dog is working as a hunting or ranch dog and is under the direct control of the owner

How our Denver dog bite attorneys prove liability

Proving liability in a dog bite case depends on proving the four elements of negligence:

  • The dog owner has a duty of care to ensure their dog does not harm others
  • The dog owner failed to uphold this duty of care, and the animal bit a person or domestic animal
  • The bite victim suffered injuries from the attack
  • These injuries caused the victim financial and other losses

Dog bite injury lawsuit process

The lawsuit process focuses on building a case to prove the four elements of negligence. We start with an independent investigation into the attack by looking at photos, interviewing witnesses, and using other tactics. We also look at the dog’s records – has it bitten before? Has the owner been issued citations or complaints from animal control?

Your medical records and journal of the impact that the dog mauling has had on your life are critical pieces of evidence in your case. The medical records establish the physical damage, and your doctor’s opinion on your recovery determines the value of your economic damages.

We try to settle out of court in mediation with the owner, but if they do not agree to a fair settlement, we take the case to court. Personal injury claims are handled in Colorado civil courts, not criminal.

Why it’s important to visit the doctor

Visiting the doctor right away not only gives you the best chance of recovery but also provides a critical piece of evidence in your case. Your medical records prove that your injuries were sustained from the dog attack and no other cause.

Cost of hiring a dog bite injury lawyer

Our firm works on a contingency basis, meaning we only assess legal fees if we win your dog bite injury case. We discuss our fee structure and how this works during your initial consultation.

Why you need a dog bite injury lawyer

You aren’t required to have a lawyer to seek a settlement from the dog owner and their insurance company, but having legal representation often ensures that you’ll win your claim and receive a fair award.

We’ve found that dog owners typically put up a fight when it comes to paying their dog’s victims. They may tell their homeowner’s insurance company that you provoked the attack. However, once a lawyer gets involved, it becomes much harder for the owner and insurance company to place the blame on you. Our Denver dog bite attorneys know the laws about dog bite liability, and we understand how to prove your case.

Why hire Zaner Harden Law, LLP

At Zaner Harden Law, LLP both founding partners own dogs and love their pets dearly. This is why they understand the responsibilities that come with dog ownership. One of these responsibilities is ensuring the dog doesn’t put others in danger. Owners who do not take this responsibility seriously face legal repercussions in the event the dog injures someone.

We focus on results, delivering quality legal representation for victims like you in your time of need. We protect your rights and help you achieve financial justice. Attorneys with Zaner Harden Law, LLP have a demonstrated record of successful personal injury cases and over a dozen recent case results with $1 million + settlements.

Denver dog bite resources

Our Denver dog bite attorney is ready to help

Colorado law is clear – when you’ve suffered injuries from being attacked by a dog, you deserve to be made whole. Our skilled Denver personal injury attorneys will be your helpful guide and powerful advocate.

Call Zaner Harden Law, LLP for a free and confidential consultation at (720) 613-9706 or complete our free case evaluation form and we will contact you.

Visit Our Personal Injury Law Office in Denver, CO

Zaner Harden Law, LLP – Denver Office
1610 Wynkoop Street. Suite 120. Denver, CO. 80202
(720) 613-9706

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Where We Are

We are located across the street from Union Station in downtown Denver and offer validated parking for all our clients. We also have offices in Boulder and Colorado Springs.