How to Prove Liability for a Dog Bite Claim in Colorado

Under Colorado bite law, dog owners have strict liability for any bodily injuries caused by their pets. This legal responsibility extends to damages incurred by individuals who are bitten or otherwise harmed by the dog.

To prove liability in a dog bite claim, evidence like pictures of bite injuries, witness statements, and medical treatment reports must show the animal that caused the injury. It must also be shown that the owner knew or should have known their pet posed a substantial risk or was dangerous. The victim cannot have been trespassing, provoking the animal, causing property damage, or acting negligently.

After determining liability, the injured party may pursue compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses for cosmetic procedures, physical harm, lost income, and emotional distress.

Our Denver dog bite lawyers can assist with these claims, call us at (720) 770-5454 to schedule a free consultation.

Colorado's Dog Bite Statutes

In Colorado, dog owners are responsible for their pet's actions. This is called strict liability law, and it applies regardless of prior aggression.

C.R.S. 13-21-124 states that a person is liable for any injury or damage caused by their dog if the injured person was lawfully on private property or public property. If someone is injured by a dog in Colorado, they may be eligible for compensation for physical injury, risk of death, muscle tears, broken bones, medical expenses, lost wages, cosmetic surgery, pain and suffering, and other damages with the statute of limitations.

an injured person after a dog bite

However, there are exceptions to a dog owner's liability. For example, if the person was provoking the dog or trespassing on the owner's property, the owner may not be held liable.

Overview of Colorado's Liability Laws

Colorado dog owners are liable for any harm or damage caused by their pets. This covers strict liability and negligence laws. Strict liability means the owner is responsible for their dog's actions, even if they didn't know or take precautions.

Negligence laws require proof that the owner was aware or should have been aware of the dog's danger and didn't protect others. To receive compensation for damages, there must be evidence of legal liability.

How Negligence Works in a Colorado Dog Bite Claim

When a dog bite victim files a personal injury claim in Colorado, they must prove that the owner of the dog was negligent at the time of the actual injury. Negligence is based on four elements:

  1. Duty: The defendant had an obligation to exercise reasonable care toward the injured person.
  2. Breach of Duty: The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and breached their duty of care towards the injured person.
  3. Cause in Fact: The defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the injury.
  4. Damages: The injured person suffered some type of harm as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

For a dog bite victim to demonstrate negligence on the part of an animal owner, they must present evidence such as previous complaints about the animal's aggressive behavior, accounts from witnesses of violent tendencies, proof of previous bodily harm, and medical records.

a dog biting a person's hand, how to prove liability for a dog bite claim

Furthermore, the victim must show that they were not trespassing, inciting the animal, or behaving negligently during the animal attack.

Not fulfilling this requirement may impact the possibility of obtaining financial compensation in a negligence claim.

Duty of Care

A Colorado dog bite claim involves the legal responsibility of the pet owner to prevent their pet from causing harm to others. To prove the pet owner liable and was negligent and failed in their duty of care, resulting in injury.

Evidence such as prior complaints, witness statements, and medical reports can help prove a breach of duty. It is also important to establish that the injured person did not provoke the animal or act negligently at the time of the incident.

Breach of Duty of Care

A breach of duty of care is one way to prove liability in a Colorado dog bite claim. To establish a breach of duty of care, the injured party (plaintiff) must show that the owner or possessor of the dog (defendant) was negligent in controlling the animal. In Colorado, this requires proving that:

  1. The defendant owned or had control over the dog.
  2. The defendant knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities.
  3. The defendant failed to take reasonable steps to protect other people from the animal's potential harm.

Causation and Foreseeability

To prove liability in a Colorado dog bite claim, causation, and foreseeability must be demonstrated. Causation means the defendant caused the injury, while foreseeability means they should have known it could happen.

a dog barking viscously at someone

Proving causation requires showing the defendant knew or should have known about the dog's dangerous behavior and didn't take reasonable precautions. Foreseeability can be proven by showing the defendant knew or should have known about a dog's history of biting.

Damages Resulting from the Breach of Duty of Care

In Colorado, citizens can seek compensation if they are injured due to someone else's negligence. This is especially true for dog bites. To prove liability in a dog bite case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's breach of duty caused their injuries.

Damages, such as medical bills, loss of consortium, loss of income and pain and suffering, treatment for nerve damage, or organ damage from bite incidents, costs of corrective surgery, and reconstructive surgery may be recoverable. The amount in a claim for damages awarded depends on the severity of the injury and the nature of the defendant's negligence.

Strict Liability Statute

In Colorado, strict liability is the standard of negligence for dog bite claims. This means that a pet owner has a legal duty and may be held liable for damages from their pet’s actions regardless of whether or not they were aware of any potential risks associated with their animal.

a person's injured leg after a dog bite

To prove liability in a Colorado dog bite lawsuit claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the owner either knew or should have known that their pet had vicious tendencies and was a major risk and that they failed to take reasonable steps to protect others from potential harm.

The Burden of Proof for Negligence Claims

In Colorado, compensation for injuries caused by a dog bite requires proof of negligence on the part of the owner or handler. Negligence is established through the four elements of duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

The plaintiff must bear the burden of proof by showing that the defendant had a duty, failed in that duty, and as a result caused the plaintiff's injuries.

Additionally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that their injuries resulted in damages, such as medical expenses or lost income.

How an Attorney Can Help Prove Negligence in Your Claim

If you get bitten by a dog in Colorado, take action right away to protect your legal rights. Denver Car Accident Lawyers can assist you in proving negligence and holding the other party responsible for your injury. The first step is identifying those responsible for the incident, including the owner or handler of the animal.

Our personal injury lawyers in Denver can help gather evidence to demonstrate their liability for your injury. We know what it takes to prove negligence in dog bite cases and will fight for your rightful compensation. Contact us today for more information on our services at (720) 770-5454.

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