If you or someone you know has ever been bitten by a dog, you know how traumatic and painful it can be. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, both physical and emotional, and can leave lasting scars. But what happens if the dog bite is relatively minor? Can you still sue for damages? In this article, we will explore the legal options available to those who have been bitten by a dog, including whether or not you can sue for a minor dog bite.
Introduction to Dog Bite Laws
Before we dive into the specifics of suing for a dog bite, it is important to understand the basic laws surrounding dog bites. Every state has different laws when it comes to dog bites, but there are some general rules that apply across the board.
Most states have what are known as “strict liability” laws, which means that a dog owner is responsible for any damages that their dog causes, regardless of whether or not they were negligent. Some states also have “one bite” rules, which means that a dog owner is not liable for damages caused by their dog’s first bite, but is liable for any subsequent bites.
Colorado Dog Bite Liability
Colorado combines struct liability and negligence for owner liability. If a dog bite results in serious injury, the owner is strictly liable for injury and damages. These include serious bodily injuries including:
- Injuries that cause a substantial risk of death
- Broken or fractured bones
- Severe injuries causing permanent disfigurement
- Severe injuries causing loss or impairment of a limb, organ system, organ, or other body part
Under Colorado’s strict liability dog bite statute, there are few exceptions when an owner is not liable for injuries and damages. Your dog bite attorney will carefully review the facts of your case to determine if an exception may apply.
Minor dog bite liability in Colorado
Liability for lesser injuries may only be brought under negligence claims for general negligence, negligence per se, or premises liability. Under these rules, the victim must prove the dog owner failed to act with reasonable care to prevent harm to other people.
Under these liability theories, an owner may argue comparative negligence as a defense to your claim. Under Colorado’s modified comparative fault laws the victim may be found partially at fault for causing the victim’s injuries and damages. That can be due to trespassing, knowingly provoking the dog to attack, or failing to acknowledge visible dangerous dog signs. If the owner is successful, the court will reduce an award of damages by the percentage of fault. If the victim is 50% or more at fault, that person is barred from recovering any financial damages.
Can You Sue for a Minor Dog Bite?
So, can you sue for a minor dog bite? The short answer is yes, you can. Even if the dog bite is relatively minor, you may still be entitled to compensation for your damages.
However, it is important to note that the amount of compensation you may be entitled to will likely be lower than if the dog bite had caused serious injuries. In general, the amount of compensation you may be entitled to will depend on the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, and any other damages you may have suffered as a result of the dog bite.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to take certain steps to protect your health and your legal rights. Here are some steps you should take after a dog bite:
Seek Medical Attention
Even if the dog bite is relatively minor, it is still important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites can easily become infected, and medical professionals can help ensure that you receive the appropriate treatment.
Report the Incident
If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to report the incident to the appropriate authorities. This may include animal control, the police, or your local health department.
Document Your Injuries
Be sure to take photographs of your injuries and keep detailed records of your medical treatment. This documentation can be helpful if you decide to pursue legal action.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been bitten by a dog, it may be in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
What Damages Can You Recover?
If you decide to sue for a dog bite, you may be entitled to recover a variety of damages. These may include:
You may be entitled to recover the cost of your medical treatment, including any hospital stays, surgeries, or medications.
If the dog bite has caused you to miss work, you may be entitled to recover the wages you would have earned during that time.
Pain and Suffering
You may be entitled to compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the dog bite.
If the dog damaged your property (for example, if it tore your clothing), you may be entitled to recover the cost of repairing or replacing that property.
Dog bites can be a traumatic and painful experience, but it is important to know that you do have legal options if you have been bitten by a dog, even if the bite is a minor dog bite. While the amount of compensation you may be entitled to for a minor dog bite may be lower than for a more serious injury, you may still be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Remember, if you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to seek medical attention, report the incident, document your injuries, and contact our experienced Denver dog bite lawyers. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected. Dog bite lawsuits are often complex and an insurance company acting on behalf of the owner will likely use its experience and financial resources to put you at a disadvantage. Hiring an experienced attorney can balance the equation and give you a fair chance with a jury. Keep in mind that dog bite injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of injury to avoid the statute of limitations barring your lawsuit.
- What should I do if I am bitten by a dog?
If you are bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention, report the incident, document your injuries, and consider contacting a personal injury lawyer.
- Can I sue for a minor dog bite?
Yes, you can sue for a minor dog bite. While the amount of compensation you may be entitled to may be lower than for a more serious injury, you may still be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
- What damages can I recover if I sue for a dog bite?
If you sue for a dog bite, you may be entitled to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
- What if the dog owner claims they are not liable for the bite?
If the dog owner claims they are not liable for the bite, you may need to seek legal assistance to prove that they are responsible for the damages caused by their dog.
- How long do I have to sue for a dog bite?
The statute of limitations for suing for a dog bite varies by state. In general, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss any important deadlines. In Colorado, the statute of limitations is generally two years.