Colorado dog bite law

Colorado dog bite law

In the past, for all types of dog bite injuries, Colorado was considered a “first-bite” state. This meant that a dog owner could be held liable for the acts of his or her dog if the animal had a propensity for violence, and the owner knew about this tendency. Generally, knowledge of a dog’s inclination for violence could be shown by a prior attack involving the dog; so the owner effectively had a defense if this was the “first-bite” by the alleged dog.

What happens if your dog bites another dog? In 2004, Colorado passed a dog bite statute that repealed the prior knowledge required, but only in cases involving “serious bodily injury.” Currently, if victims suffer any injuries that include a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or loss of the function of any part of the body, they do not have to show that the dog owner had any prior knowledge of the dog’s tendency for violence in order to hold the dog owner responsible.

The statute does still allow Colorado dog bite victims to make a case under the “first-bite” rule if the injury was not considered a serious bodily injury.

Exemptions to Dog Bite Liability

What happens after a dog bite is reported?

The dog bite statute also created specific liability exemptions for dog owners. These exemptions apply to all dog bite injuries, regardless of whether the injury is considered “serious,” and include situations in which:

  • The victim is unlawfully on public or private property in which the dog bite occurs
  • The victim is on the property of the dog owner and the property is clearly and conspicuously marked with one or more posted signs stating “no trespassing” or “beware of dog”
  • The dog is being used by a peace officer or military personnel in the performance of their duties
  • The victim is knowingly provoking the dog
  • The victim is a veterinary health care worker, dog groomer, humane agency staff person, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge acting in the performance of his or her respective duties
  • The dog is working as a hunting dog, herding dog, farm or ranch dog, or predator control dog on the property of or under the control of the dog’s owner

Effect of Dog Bite Statute

What to do when your dog bites someone? The enactment of Colorado’s dog bite statute has effectively created different classes of dog bite victims. The first type includes unfortunate dog bite victims that fall under one of the exemptions described above, and they have no ability to recover damages.

The second type involves victims who suffer a “serious bodily injury,” and can collect economic damages under the statute. These victims do not have to prove that the dog owner had any prior knowledge of the dog’s tendency for violence.

A third type includes dog bite victims, with or without serious injuries, who can file a suit for damages under any available theory, such as the first-bite rule.

If you are the victim of a dog bite, contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney to assist you in navigating the state’s complex dog bite laws. An attorney will advocate on your behalf to help ensure you receive appropriate compensation for your injuries.


If a Dog Bites Someone, Will it Be Put Down?

What happens if my dog bites someone? Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly states in the nation. Step onto the streets and you will find a large number of dog owners happily interacting with their pets. Similarly, the city has a history of dog-friendly policies and continues to provide a number of dog parks and dog-accessible areas for pet owners of all types. To be sure, most of Colorado’s dog population enjoys a rich, fulfilling relationship with their human companions.

Unfortunately, dogs sometimes react negatively to situations other than the ideal scenarios depicted above. Sometimes, a dog that is cornered, afraid, or endangered may react by biting. In some cases, the dogs involved have previously shown the propensity to bite. In others, a dog bite attack can appear to come out of the blue. If you were bitten by a dog in Denver, talk to a Denver dog attack attorney. Our firm can help you recover the damages you deserve.

Dog owners and bite victims alike often wonder about the eventual fate of the dog involved in the attack. Does Colorado euthanize dogs after attacks? If so, under what circumstances?

Dog Bite Liability

What happens if your dog bites someone? First, it is important to discuss the situations in which dog owners hold liability for the damages their dogs cause during a bite or other attack situation. In fact, Colorado is a unique dog bite law state. What happens when a dog bites a child? While most other states assign either strict liability or negligence under premises liability dog bites child law, Colorado utilizes a combination of the two.

When my dog bit someone should I put him down causes severe bodily damage or death, Colorado’s dog bite statute comes into play. The statute assigns strict liability to the dog owner. Strict liability applies even if the owner had no way of knowing the dog would act aggressively. Liability also applies regardless of a dog’s past non-aggressive status. Several severe bodily injury bites can occur.

  • Bites causing severe injuries that lead to a substantial risk of death
  • Bites causing permanent disfigurement
  • Bites causing the loss or severely reduced use of a limb, organ, organ system, or another body part
  • Bites causing fractures, broken bones, or burns

If the bite occurred while the victim was on public property or legally upon private property, the Colorado statute enacts strict liability.

Conversely, if the resulting injuries are not severe, regular premises liability or other negligence rules may apply. The victim must prove that the dog’s owner failed to provide reasonable care in order to control the dog or prevent it from causing injury to others. Then, the victim must prove that the situation directly caused the dog bite injuries.

Colorado has a complicated dog bite statute that imposes strict liability upon a dog owner when the victim suffers a serious bodily injury, but limits the victim’s compensation to only “economic loss.” To collect full damages, the victim has to prove the elements of the one-bite rule, the doctrine of negligence, or the doctrine of negligence per se for violating an animal control law. There are further restrictions, such as the state’s “cap” on damages for certain types of injuries. Because of the complexity of the law in this state, an attorney must be consulted to prosecute or defend a dog bite case, or injustice might result.

  • Proving a dangerous propensity
  • The dog bite statute
  • Negligence and negligence per se
  • Landlord liability
  • Bystander claims for emotional distress
  • Settlement offers and awards of costs

Dog Euthanasia in Colorado

Under Colorado statute, a dangerous dog is a dog that has bitten a human or animal and either:

  • Caused serious bodily injury or death
  • Shown the potential to cause serious bodily injury or death, or
  • Trained for dogfighting

What to do if your dog bites someone? If a dog bites a person or another animal in the state of Colorado and causes severe bodily injury, strict liability comes into play. However, if the dog has previously shown the potential to cause severe injuries by biting in a less severe manner or training for dogfighting, the owner must register the dog on a dangerous dog directory.

When my dog bit someone severely injures another person, the owner may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the injuries or death involved. If a judge finds the owner guilty – or if the owner pleads guilty – of misdemeanor or felony charges in a case involving serious bodily injuries, death, or the second instance of a less-severe bite, local animal authorities confiscate the dog and place it in a shelter at the owner’s expense. Cases of deferred and delayed judgment result in the same scenario.

The owner then has the opportunity to appeal the court’s decision. At this time, the dog remains in the care of the authorities until the court approves or denies the appeal. Unfortunately, if the court upholds the judgment, a judge can order the euthanization of the animal by a court-ordered veterinarian.