| Read Time: 5 minutes | Personal Injury

Key Takeaway: In Colorado, if you suffer a dog bite, you may be eligible for compensation through the dog owner’s property insurance policy. The state’s dog bite law imposes strict liability on owners for serious injuries caused by their dogs. Compensation can cover economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, while noneconomic damages like pain and suffering may be pursued through a negligence claim. An experienced attorney can help navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a lawsuit if necessary to obtain fair compensation.

How to File an Insurance Claim for a Dog Bite in Colorado

Pets can bring so much joy to our lives. We develop close relationships with our dogs to the point that they are family members, and we view other dogs as if they are the sweet, loving animals that we have at home. However, they are still animals and can behave in unpredictable ways. If another animal attacks you, it can cause both physical and emotional harm.

If you suffer a dog bite in Colorado, you may be eligible for compensation through the dog owner’s property insurance policy. This article discusses how to file an insurance claim for a dog bite in Colorado, who is eligible for compensation, and what compensation can be obtained.

Who Is Eligible for Compensation?

If a dog bite in Colorado seriously injured you, then the owner is strictly liable. Strict liability means that the owner is responsible for your losses even if they were not at fault for the bite. However, if you were not seriously injured or the dog caused an injury other than a bite, a negligence lawsuit may be appropriate to recover damages. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that a strict liability claim allows you to recover only economic damages—the tangible financial losses resulting from the bite, such as medical bills. If you want to be able to recover additional damages, such as pain and suffering, you will need to file a negligence claim.

Colorado Dog Bite Law – Strict Liability

Under Colorado state law, a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog bite if:

  • The dog bites a person who was lawfully on the owner’s public or private property at the time of the bite, and
  • The bite resulted in serious bodily injury or death. 

Serious bodily injuries are injuries that involve a serious risk of: :

  • Death,
  • Permanent disfigurement,
  • Functional loss of a body part, or
  • Bone breaks or fractures.

You are eligible for certain damages if a dog bites you and causes serious injury. However, a dog owner may assert specific defenses against such a claim.

Colorado Dog Bite Law – Defenses

The defenses against a claim for a dog bite in Colorado are as follows:

  • The person was bit while trespassing on public or private property;
  • The property was clearly marked with one or more signs stating “No Trespassing” or “Beware of Dog”;
  • The trespasser provoked the dog;
  • The dog was part of police or military personnel when the bite occurred;
  • The injured person was a veterinary health care worker, dog groomer, humane agency staff member, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge when the bite occurred; and
  • The dog was working as a hunting, herding, farming, ranching, or predator control dog when the bite occurred.

The defenses listed above may apply to both strict liability and negligence claims, so it is important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can best evaluate the merits of both claims.

Colorado Personal Injury Law – Negligence Claim

If a victim does not sustain a serious bodily injury from a dog bite or the dog causes injury in a manner other than biting, then a negligence claim may be appropriate to seek compensation. Colorado’s negligence law requires the victim to establish that the owner failed to control or restrain the dog. A victim must also prove the following:

  • That the owner owed a duty of care to the victim,
  • That the owner breached their duty of care,
  • That the defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury, and
  • That the victim sustained injuries that can be calculated as monetary damages.

If the victim can prove all the necessary elements of the negligence claim, they may be entitled to damages. 

Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury

Colorado’s strict liability law entitles a victim to economic damages, whereas a successful personal injury lawsuit for the dog owner’s negligence may entitle a victim to both economic and noneconomic damages. 

Economic Damages

Victims who are seriously injured by a dog bite are eligible for economic damages. These include payment for:

  • Current and future medical bills,
  • Surgical procedures,
  • Therapy and rehabilitation,
  • Medications,
  • Current and future lost wages, and
  • Loss of earning power.

Under the strict liability law, a dog bite victim cannot recover noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Recovering noneconomic damages requires the victim to pursue a negligence-based personal injury claim.

Noneconomic Damages

A dog bite victim who proves that the dog owner was negligent in supervising or controlling the dog can pursue compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of enjoyment;
  • Psychological harm, and
  • Emotional distress.

An experienced attorney can help you calculate a dollar value for all non-economic and economic damages so you can obtain the best recovery possible.

Average Insurance Claim for Dog Bite

The Insurance Information Institute provides statistics on dog bite liability and homeowners insurance liability claims.

  • Liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurers $1.136 billion in 2022;
  • The average cost per claim increased 31.7% between 2021 and 2022, from $49,025 to $64,555; and
  • The percent change in the value of dog-bite-related claims increased by 134.9% from 2013 to 2022.

The compensation you are entitled to depends on the specific facts of your case, so it is important to find experienced legal representation to help you understand the damages you can claim.

How Can I Obtain Compensation?

The owner’s property insurance policy covers dog bite insurance claims. Once a claim is submitted, an insurance adjuster is assigned to your case on behalf of the insurance company.

If negotiations fail with the insurance company or the owner does not have insurance, a lawsuit may be necessary. Colorado has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, which gives you just two years from the date of the dog bite injury to file a lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help you negotiate with the insurance company and file a lawsuit, if necessary.

How Will a Lawyer Help Me?

An experienced attorney who is intimately familiar with the local personal injury and insurance laws can be a big help in navigating the detailed legal process. They can:

  • Gather vital evidence to help build the most valuable case,
  • Keep track of critical legal deadlines,
  • Evaluate your case to identify all potential sources of liability,
  • Use their legal knowledge and experience to handle all negotiations and obtain the best dog bite insurance claims settlement possible under the law, and
  • Draft and file a lawsuit on your behalf in the event negotiations fail.

If you need help with any of the tasks above, the attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are here to help.

Choose Award-Winning Legal Representation

Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., has years of experience representing victims in dog bite cases. Our firm has a 5.0 out of 5.0 AV® rating for ethics & legal talent and was selected for Colorado Super Lawyers® and Best Lawyers in America®. Our attorneys are eager to be your advocates and defend your rights every step of the way. Contact us for more information on how we can help you with your dog bite case. 

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At Gerash Steiner Blanton P.C., we pride ourselves on providing exceptional legal services to every one of our clients. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of legal matters. We understand that every case is unique and will always provide personalized solutions to meet your immediate legal needs.

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