It’s crucial to notify the appropriate authorities if a dog attacks you in Colorado. To track potentially harmful pets in the region, your local animal control agency requires this information. If the dog continues to bite individuals by developing a pattern of aggressive behavior, reporting the dog bite may be helpful to prevent other injuries. By preserving the attack, it might also serve as the basis for a dog bite injury claim in Colorado.
Notify the local animal control agency about the dog bite
If you are seriously injured by a dog bite, call 911 to report the attack and request paramedics. Dog bites can cause life-threatening injuries especially from a large dog or an attack on a small child. Your health and well-being are a priority.
In any other situation, whether it results in a dog bite injury, contact the animal control agency for the county where the bite occurred. Colorado Revised Statute 25-4-603 requires victims and owners to report domestic animal bites that break the skin within twelve hours. Every Colorado county has an animal control agency that takes reports and investigates dog bites.
For example, in Denver where the city and county governments are consolidated, you can contact Denver Animal Protection at 720-913-1311 or 311 to file a report of a dog or other animal bite. You can also file your report through their website. In most areas in Colorado the county government is separate from the cities within and you can contact the county’s animal control office. (Other county animal control agencies include El Paso County and Arapahoe County.)
Report the attack as soon as you can while you remember as many details as possible. Give the agency a summary of the event, a description of the dog, the pet owner’s name and contact information if you have it and any other relevant details you have. If you do not know the owner, you should obtain the name and contact information if possible before leaving the scene. If the owner refuses to give you this info, take photos or videos of the dog and owner. Keep a copy of your report for your records. If you need to pursue a dog bite injury claim, the report will be important evidence of the attack.
What happens after you report a dog bite in Colorado?
After you report a dog bite that broke the skin (or caused worse injuries), Animal Control will quarantine the dog and begin an investigation. The dog will be placed on a ten day quarantine. During quarantine the dog will be checked for rabies, regardless of vaccination status. Quarantine can occur at the pet owner’s home, a veterinary hospital or the Denver Animal Shelter. (Or local shelter in other counties.)
If your dog bite resulted in serious bodily injuries, the dog may be determined dangerous under Colorado law. That may require the pet owner to take additional steps to prevent attacks on other people. An example of a safety precaution is requiring a muzzle when walking the dog in public. The owner may have to register the pet as a dangerous dog. Registration may require additional steps, such as special warning signs and enclosures at the pet’s home.
In severe cases, the pet owner may face criminal charges for the dog attack from a misdemeanor to felony. A dangerous dog may be confiscated and held at a shelter under certain circumstances. In extreme but rare cases, Colorado law a court may order Animal Control to euthanize an animal after a bite. The pet owner may challenge the criminal case and appeal an order to euthanize their pet.
Should you get medical treatment for an attack?
If a dog bite broke the skin, you should seek immediate care for the wound. A dog’s mouth is full of bacteria that can lead to infection, in addition to damage caused by the puncture or force of the dog bite. Even a minor dog bite that breaks the skin deserves medical care. An emergency room or urgent care facility can clean the wound professionally and allow a medical doctor to evaluate your injury. You may require wound debridement, cleaning and antibiotics to avoid an infection. The physician can evaluate your need for a rabies shot and administer one if needed.
Visiting a doctor for a dog bite requires the medical facility to report the incident to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE). The medical facility will give the state agency details of the incident so make sure to tell the doctor all the relevant information, even if you already filed a report with local animal control. This can create another useful piece of evidence if you need to pursue an injury claim. Keep copies of your medical records from the emergency room or urgent care, as well as any bills or receipts for the visit.
If a doctor prescribes a treatment plan for your injury, it is important to follow through on recommended treatment. Antibiotics are important tools to prevent infection and topical medication can minimize scarring. If you have more serious injuries, you may need surgery or other more serious treatment to regain function and eliminate a painful injury.
Bringing a dog bite injury lawsuit
After reporting the dog bite and seeing a doctor, your next step is contacting a Denver dog bite lawyer about an injury claim. In Colorado, dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their dogs under most circumstances. Colorado law holds owners strictly liable when the attack occurs on public property, such as a park or street, or lawfully on private property. Owners are liable even if the dog has never attacked or bitten a person before.
There are some circumstances that shield an owner from liability under certain dog bite injury laws. If you were trespassing or the owner put up “Beware of Dog” signs on the property, that may shield the owner from liability under strict liability in Colorado. Other legal theories of liability may still apply. If you antagonize a dog into an attack, that may also avoid liability under certain circumstances. Our dog bite attorneys can evaluate your claim to determine if an exception avoids liability entirely.
You can recover financial compensation for the consequences of a dog bite. Although minor dog bites may result in relatively small medical bills and short term pain, more serious attacks can result in multiple surgeries, permanent disability and even death. Our dog bite lawyers at Front Range Injury Attorneys can review your case and tell you if it has merit. Our lawyers can represent you in an insurance claim or lawsuit against the owner. Compensation for dog bites in Denver and other parts of Colorado may include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages and benefits if you cannot work due to the dog attack injuries
- Damage to your property as a result of a dog attack
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Out of pocket costs for treatment, such as transportation
- Veterinary bills if your dog was also injured in the attack
Our dog bite attorneys can evaluate the types of damages and value of your case based upon the severity of attack, types of injuries you sustained and financial losses involved.
What is the statute of limitations for dog bites under Colorado law?
Dog bite injury claims are civil claims like other personal injury claims. Colorado law allows a dog bite victim two years to file a civil lawsuit for compensation against the dog owner. If you do not reach a settlement with the owner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit by that date, you will generally lose the right to pursue your damages at trial.
There are exceptions that may give you longer time or on the other hand, require you to act more quickly to protect your legal rights. For example, if the victim of a dog bite is a child, the child may file a personal injury lawsuit two years after becoming an adult. (Often parents pursue claims earlier on their child’s behalf.) A dog bite claim may involve pursuing premises liability or other claims against a property owner. Although most premises liability claims also possess a two year statute of limitations, if your claim involved a government agency or property, you must file a special notice of claim within 182 days. Our Denver dog bite attorney will review all the relevant deadlines and take necessary steps to pursue your dog bite case.
It is best to start working with our lawyers as soon as possible after a do bite. Evidence may be more difficult to gather the longer you wait. For example, if the owner insists there were Beware of Dog signs but you didn’t see them, it will be helpful to immediately document the location in photo or video. The owner may move or put up signs after the fact. If a dog bit you or a family member, talk to our experienced dog bite attorneys about your rights and legal options.
Contact the Denver dog bite lawyers at Front Range Injury Attorneys
Our Denver dog bite lawyers are experienced advocates for injury victims who suffered consequences of a dog attack. We know you never anticipated a dog bite injury and may not know where to turn for help. Our lawyers will listen to your explanation and advise you of your legal rights and options. If we represent your dog attack claim, we will investigate to identify liable parties and pursue all possible claims for fair and full compensation. We offer free and confidential consultations with our Denver dog bite lawyers, so there is no cost or risk to speak to a lawyer at Front Range Injury Attorneys. Call our law office at 720.826.4399 or complete the contact form to schedule a consultation today.