Dog Bite Lawyer in Denver, CO

Lakewood, Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Denver, Boulder, and Nearby Areas

Any dog, regardless of size or breed, can cause injuries through a bite. Most dog bites are preventable and are the result of an owner’s negligence, either through neglect, abuse or intentional aggression training.

The dog bite lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm are dedicated to helping injury victims recover the financial security they need to cope with medical expenses and restore their lives. If you or a family member was hurt in a dog attack in the greater Denver area, please call 303-237-7373 for your complimentary consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

Front Range Dog Bites by Breed

Dog bites in denver infographicComprehensive bite statistics are difficult to obtain, because there is not a uniform system for reporting bites and maintaining dog bite records. However, in late 2014, Denver’s 9News in conjunction with PBS’ I-News conducted an extensive review of available data regarding dog bites along the Front Range.

Based on about 6,500 reported dog bites between 2012 and 2013, the investigation found that the five breeds responsible for the most reported bites in the Denver area were:

  • Labradors
  • German shepherds
  • Pit bulls
  • Chihuahuas
  • Bulldogs

It’s important to note that breed identification can be subjective, and that many dogs singled out as a specific breed are actually mixed breeds. Breeds in the reported cases were identified by either victims or animal control officials. It is also important to note that not all breeds listed are aggressive. A dog’s temperament and training influence its potential to bite. 

A 2014 Westword article noted that pit bulls are the most euthanized dog breed along the Front Range. This is perhaps no surprise given pit bull bans in Denver and a number of surrounding communities.

The most frequently euthanized breeds along the Front Range are:

  • Pit bulls
  • Labradors
  • Chihuahuas
  • German shepherds
  • Bulldogs

Not all dogs were euthanized for bites or aggressive behavior. Of the 4,800 dogs euthanized in Front Range shelters between 2012 and 2013, about half were related to aggression; at least a quarter were related to medical conditions.

Another 2014 Westword article also examined the dog breeds with the most—and fewest—bites in the greater Denver area. The five dog breeds with the fewest reported bites were:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Anatolian shepherd
  • Australian kelpie
  • Australian terrier
  • Basenji

Most of these breeds, in addition to dozens of others, were associated with only one reported bite.

Colorado Dog Bite Laws

Although laws related to dogs vary by municipality, Colorado imposes what is known as “strict liability” when it comes to dog bites. This means that an owner is liable for injuries resulting from a dog attack, even if he or she had no knowledge of a dog’s potentially aggressive nature.

Strict liability applies to economic damages, such as emergency medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. In order to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, the victim must prove that the dog’s owner demonstrated negligent or intentional conduct—such as a violation of leash law or owning a dog with a history of violent behavior—that contributed to the attack and resulting injuries.

The city of Denver defines dangerous dogs as “any dog with a known propensity or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury to or otherwise endanger the safety of humans or other domestic animals” or “any dog that … attacks or bites any person or domestic animal.” While all dog bites that result in injury should be reported, many people who suffer minor injuries—especially those caused by known family pets—don’t report the attacks.

The legal requirements for reporting dog attacks also vary by municipality. Jefferson County law, for example, requires that any animal bite that breaks the skin be reported to Animal Control.

Dog owners are generally not liable for damages if the dog bite victim was trespassing, ignored clear warning signs such as “Beware of Dog” postings, or intentionally provoked the dog.

Learn more about dog bites in our blog

Dog Bite Injuries

According to the 9News and I-News report, 4 percent of dog bites were categorized as “severe” with the rest classified as “moderate” or “minor.” Severe dog bites included those that, at minimum, required stitches; many dog bites categorized as severe resulted in nerve damage, and many also required plastic surgery.

More than 70 percent of dog bites occur on the hands, arms, legs and feet, with bites to the hands being the most common. Bites above the neck are more common among children than adults.

Dog Bites and Children

According to the CDC and AHS, more than half of all dog bite victims are children, and a majority of child victims are under the age of 12. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that unsupervised children are most at risk for dog bite injuries.

One of the key factors at play is the size of children relative to dogs. While adult dog bite victims often sustain injuries to their hands, arms and legs, children are more vulnerable to bites around the face and neck.

Young children also lack awareness of how to behave around dogs, the knowledge of how to recognize potential dog aggression, and the physical ability to stop a dog attack. The UC study found that in many cases of dog attacks on children, even if a dog releases after a first bite it will bite again with the secondary attacks often causing greater injuries.

Factors in Dog Bites

Dogs don’t attack or bite without reason, although the reason may not always be evident or make sense to humans. A 2014 Psychology Today article written by a team with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists described common factors in dog bites including:

  • Defense of self or possessions, especially food
  • Reaction to pain, either from physical abuse or an unintentional action like stepping on a dog’s tail or paw
  • Fear, such as from being cornered or a perceived aggressive action
  • Illness or injury
  • Rough play
  • Isolation or lack of socialization
  • Human intervention in fights between dogs

Dogs that are neglected, confined, abused or trained to attack are more likely to bite than dogs that are socialized and receive routine human interaction at home. While certain breeds are linked to greater instances of attacks and bites, breed itself does not predispose a given dog to aggression.

Preventing Dog Bites

To reduce the likelihood of dog bites, the AHS offers the following tips:

  • Don’t leave young children unattended with a dog, even the family pet; many dog bites to children are inadvertently provoked and are the result of a dog’s natural defense mechanisms
  • Don’t approach unfamiliar dogs
  • Don’t make physical contact with an animal that seems to be injured
  • Don’t poke, hit, pull or otherwise provoke a dog
  • Don’t disturb a dog when it is eating, sleeping or caring for pups even if you are the dog owner
  • Always allow unfamiliar dogs to smell you before attempting to pet them

Many dog attacks are initiated by unsocialized stray dogs or dogs that have escaped neglectful confinement. If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog that may be aggressive, the following tips may help you avoid conflict and injury:

  • Remain calm and still; do not run, scream or make violent motions toward the dog
  • Avoid direct eye contact
  • Speak in a low, soothing voice and slowly attempt to back away toward safety
  • Watch for physical signs of potential canine aggression: rigid posture, downward-curled corners of the mouth, hair standing along the dog’s neck and back, stiff tail, ears flattened back, tongue flicking, head turned by eyes locked on, lowered head

If you are attacked, curl into a ball and protect your head and neck. Attempt to remain motionless; fighting back in the midst of an attack can further provoke the dog. The most important thing you can do is protect yourself from severe injury, if possible. 

Damages You May Recover After a Dog Bite

A dog bite or attack can cause significant damage depending on many factors. As soon after a dog bite or dog attack as possible, seek medical attention, even if you believe the dog bite injury is minor. A dog bite can become infected, leading to additional issues. If possible, the dog owner also needs to be contacted immediately.

You can recover three types of damage in Colorado: Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

You can recover compensation from the dog owner for any money you spend that is related to the dog bite or dog attack. Economic damages can include:

  • Medical Expenses: Medical expenses include doctors’ appointments, surgeries, prescriptions, physical therapy, psychological therapy, cognitive therapy, psychological therapy, and medical aids, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen.
  • Wages: If you lost time at work because of a dog bite, you can recover lost wages. If your injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities, you could also recover loss of future earning capacity.
  • Death-Related Expenses: If you lost a loved one due to a dog attack, you can recover the cost of several death-related expenses, including funeral, burial, and cremation expenses and certain probate court fees or probate attorneys’ fees.

Non-Economic Damages

In addition to items that cost you money out of pocket, you can recover compensation for several items that you cannot put a dollar amount on, including:

  • Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of companionship and / or consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Disfigurement and / or excessive scarring
  • Amputation

Generally, non-economic damages are only available if your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. For example, you can’t usually collect pain and suffering for a broken leg that will heal in a few months, but you can if the broken leg was smashed, and even with repairs, it will never be right.

Punitive Damages

Only some people can recover punitive damages from dog owners. You must be able to prove the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent – a harder test to meet than regular negligence. The court only orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s actions or inactions in the hopes that it prevents him or her and others from taking the same action or inaction.

Colorado has specific laws stating how much you can recover for punitive damages. If your attorney believes you may have a chance of recovering punitive damages, he or she can go over the requirements with you.

Contact Us Today:

If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, please contact the Frickey Law Firm online or call us at 303-237-7373. Our accomplished dog bite attorneys have an extensive record of success helping injury victims from Lakewood, boulder and the greater Denver area recover the financial security they need to move forward with their lives.