What is the “One Bite” Rule for Dogs?

In a “one bite” state, owners are not held liable for damages following a dog bite as long as their animal has not attacked anyone before. One bite laws protect dog owners from lawsuits and litigation following the animal’s first bite, but only in cases where there was no prior knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies.

This was the law of the land for decades. It is fairly uncommon in the 21st Century. In fact, there are only 14 states that still follow the one bite law. These are:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

Even in these states, however, there are exceptions, challenges, and special considerations that provide victims of dog bites a path to justice.

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability holds the owner of a dog responsible for any injuries the animal may cause, even if there is no prior knowledge or indication of aggressive behavior. Under strict liability, dog owners can be held accountable for medical expenses, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering following a dog bite, even if the injury is minor.

It is important to remember that in many strict liability states, it is the owner, not handlers, walkers, or sitters, who is held accountable for damages, even if the owner was not with the animal when it attacked. However, as with all dog bite laws, this varies from state to state.

Is Colorado a One Bite or Strict Liability State?

Colorado is neither a one bite nor a strict liability state, but rather a mix of the two. In Colorado, an owner can be held liable for damages if his or her dog bites someone, even if they didn’t know it was aggressive. The damages you can collect are limited by the extent of the injury.

Under Colorado dog bite law, victims can bring claims for economic damages, such as medical expenses, for all dog bites. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, can only be sought in cases where a serious or fatal injury occurred.

Having an experienced dog bite lawyer on your side is the best way to find out what you may be entitled to. Call our office at 720-667-3030 to schedule a complimentary case review and learn more.

When is the Owner Not Liable for a Dog Bite?

You lose your right to seek compensation for dog bite injuries if, at the time of the attack, you were:

  • Trespassing on private property
  • Interfering with official police or military operations
  • Knowingly provoking the animal
  • Acting in a professional capacity as a groomer, trainer, veterinarian, etc.

Dog owners may avoid liability if the attack occurs on private property with clearly posted “Beware of Dog” signs. Owners may also be cleared of liability in cases where a dog bite results from interference with the animal’s duties, such as hunting, herding, farming, and performing similar tasks.

Do You Have a Case?

If you have suffered injury from a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for all related damages. Please call Leventhal Sar LLC at 720-667-3030 to schedule a free case review and learn more. We serve Metro Denver and all surrounding communities from our Cherry Creek office.

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