What Is the One-Bite Rule?
There is a pervasive myth that we often hear at the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson: the one-bite rule. Most people assume that if they or their children experience a dog attack and are injured, they can only sue and receive compensation if that dog bit someone before. The underlying assumption is that the dog’s owner is only responsible if they knew the dog could be dangerous, and the owner doesn’t know that until after the first bite.
This assumption isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s not the full picture either. Most states do not strictly follow the one-bite rule anymore. Mississippi is the only one that sticks to this rule and has not modified it in some way. Most states, including Colorado, have updated their dog bite law beyond the simple one-bite rule to give dog owners a greater amount of liability for their pets.
In Colorado, whether or not a dog has violent propensities matters a great deal. If you can show that the dog bit someone before, or had been vicious or aggressive, then you may recover both economic and non-economic damages associated with the attack. This ensures you recover full and fair compensation for your or your child’s injuries and not just basic compensation for your expenses.
However, you are not without legal recourse if you cannot prove that first bite took place. Under Colorado law, dog owners are strictly liable for economic damages when their animals cause serious injuries or death. If you or your child were seriously harmed by a dog that was not known to be aggressive or dangerous, an attorney can help you receive compensation for your medical expenses and other financial losses.
Because of common myths and misunderstandings surrounding dog bite law, it is essential you speak with an experienced Colorado dog attack lawyer before deciding what to do. Call the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson at (303) 458-5000 to schedule a free consultation.
Colorado’s Dog Bite Statute
Colorado’s dog bite statute addresses strict liability. Colorado Revised Statutes §13-21-124 says that any person who suffers a serious bodily injury or death from being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property is entitled to bring a civil action to recover economic damages from the dog owner regardless of the viciousness or dangerous propensities of the dog or the dog owner’s knowledge or lack of knowledge of the dog’s propensities.
This law makes a dog owner automatically liable for any serious injuries or fatalities the dog causes. Serious bodily injuries are defined as those involving:
- A substantial risk of death;
- A substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement;
- A substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body part or organ;
- Fractures; or
- Second or third-degree burns.
Therefore, if a dog attack caused you or your child to suffer any broken bones, significant lacerations that will leave scars, soft tissue injuries that could lead to permanent physical limitations, or organ damage, then you should call a Denver dog bite lawyer. The dog owner is liable for your financial injuries associated with the attack.
If you can also prove that the dog had dangerous propensities, you may recover non-economic damages. This would include compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and disability.
Talk With an Experienced Attorney After a Dog Attack
Being attacked by a dog, or watching an animal attack your child, is a traumatic experience. At the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson, we want to obtain you as much compensation as possible. To this end, we strive to prove that the dog had dangerous propensities, which may involve having bitten someone before. Receiving a settlement or jury award may not feel like consolation, but it can help you and your family move beyond the incident.
To learn more about how we handle dog bite claims, contact us online or call (303) 458-5000 to schedule a free consultation.