Most of the time, dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend and considered to be part of the family. They provide companionship and support for millions of people across the globe, and because of our close relationships with them, our worlds would not be the same without them.
Unfortunately, dogs – like all animals – can sometimes be unpredictable and may bite you or a loved one. These bites can often be very severe in nature or even life-threatening. Once you’ve been bitten, you must ask yourself if you have a dog bite case that will allow you to be compensated for your injuries and cover your medical bills.
The Basis of Strict Liability
Colorado uses an approach to dog bite cases that combines the rules of “strict liability” and “negligence.” When a dog bite is severe and leads to what is referred to as “serious bodily injury,” this falls under the rule of strict liability. These types of injuries involve a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of any organ or part of the body, and/or any breaks, fractures, or 2nd or 3rd-degree burns. Strict liability means that the dog owner is liable for the damages caused by the dog whether or not the owner knows or could have known that the dog would act aggressively and/or bite someone. And, in order for strict liability to apply, the injury must have occurred on either public property or lawfully-occupied private property. The damages that a dog owner can be strictly liable for under Colorado law are the economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income, the victim sustained from the serious bodily injury caused by the dog.
The Basis of Negligence
When a dog bite injury is mild, or the damages sought by the victim are non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) that’s when Colorado’s negligence rules kick in. With these types of negligence cases, an injured person must demonstrate that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to control or restrain the animal and that the dog bite resulted from the lack of that care. Often times a plaintiff will have the proof that the dog owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous or aggressive propensities and failed to safeguard others from those dangers. Another difference between negligence and strict liability is that a person can seek compensation for not only a dog bite but also other injuries, such as ones that are related to the dog knocking the person to the ground, even when a dog bite does not occur.
The Importance of Time Limits
If you have been injured as the result of a dog bite, Colorado law gives you two years from the date of the injury for you to file a lawsuit against the liable and/or negligent party. Although this statute of limitations seems like a long time, there are often circumstances where an injured party may delay the case until it is too late. If this happens, then an injured person will forfeit his or her legal right to compensation through the civil court system. Also, even though you have two years to file, it’s best to act quickly so that the events are fresh in your mind and your attorney can advise you with early decisions that will affect the outcome of your case.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney
Dog bite cases can be tricky, especially when owners vehemently deny any wrongdoing or negligence on their part. This is why you must hire a personal injury attorney right away. A seasoned law firm can assist you in gathering evidence necessary for your case and in filing a lawsuit against the liable and/or negligent party. And remember that the sooner you can reach out to an attorney, the stronger your case is likely to be.
Dog bite cases can be tricky to navigate and, depending on the specifics of the event, getting fairly compensated can be challenging. This is why you need a law firm that is well-versed in dog bite cases. Mintz Law Firm has been involved in many dog bite cases over the years and will help you receive a fair settlement for your injuries. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and we’ll get you started on the path to proper compensation.