According to the American Humane Association, more than 4.7 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs on an annual basis and every 6 bites is serious enough to warrant medical attention. As alarming as these statistics are, it is important that our readers understand the Colorado dog bite statute.
PART 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
C.R.S. 13-21-124 (2014)
13-21-124. Civil actions against dog owners
(1) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Bodily injury” means any physical injury that results in severe bruising, muscle tears, or skin lacerations requiring professional medical treatment or any physical injury that requires corrective or cosmetic surgery.
(b) “Dog” means any domesticated animal related to the fox, wolf, coyote, or jackal.
(c) “Dog owner” means a person, firm, corporation, or organization owning, possessing, harboring, keeping, having financial or property interest in, or having control or custody of, a dog.
(d) “Serious bodily injury” has the same meaning as set forth in section 18-1-901 (3) (p), C.R.S.
(2) A person or a personal representative of a person who suffers serious bodily injury or death from being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property shall be entitled to bring a civil action to recover economic damages against 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 viciousness or dangerous propensities.
(3) In any case described in subsection (2) of this section in which it is alleged and proved that the dog owner had knowledge or notice of the dog’s viciousness or dangerous propensities, the court, upon a motion made by the victim or the personal representative of the victim, may enter an order that the dog be euthanized by a licensed veterinarian or licensed shelter at the expense of the dog owner.
(4) For purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed to be lawfully on public or private property if he or she is in the performance of a duty imposed upon him or her by local, state, or federal laws or regulations or if he or she is on property upon express or implied invitation of the owner of the property or is on his or her own property.
(5) A dog owner shall not be liable to a person who suffers bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death from being bitten by the dog:
(a) While the person is unlawfully on public or private property;
(b) While the person is on property of the dog owner and the property is clearly and conspicuously marked with one or more posted signs stating “no trespassing” or “beware of dog”;
(c) While the dog is being used by a peace officer or military personnel in the performance of peace officer or military personnel duties;
(d) As a result of the person knowingly provoking the dog;
(e) If the person is a veterinary health care worker, dog groomer, humane agency staff person, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge acting in the performance of his or her respective duties; or
(f) While the dog is working as a hunting dog, herding dog, farm or ranch dog, or predator control dog on the property of or under the control of the dog’s owner.
(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to:
(a) Affect any other cause of action predicated on other negligence, intentional tort, outrageous conduct, or other theories;
(b) Affect the provisions of any other criminal or civil statute governing the regulation of dogs; or
(c) Abrogate any provision of the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act”, article 10 of title 24, C.R.S.
HISTORY: Source: L. 2004: Entire section added, p. 507, § 1, effective April 21.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.