Colorado’s Dog Bite Law


If you were injured by someone else’s dog, you’re probably wondering about Colorado’s dog bite laws and reasonably so. Is the dog’s owner responsible for your losses? Do you have rights under Colorado law?

Each state handles dog bites in its own way. Some states follow the “strict liability” rule while others follow the “negligence” rule. Colorado uses both approaches. If a dog seriously injures or kills someone, the dog’s owner is strictly liable for the harm their dog caused, even if he or she had no idea the dog was dangerous.

How Does ‘Strict Liability’ Apply to Colorado Dog Bite Law?

Let’s say that “Pete” adopted a dog from the shelter and one week later the dog bit his neighbor who dropped by to say hi. Pete would still be strictly liable for his neighbor’s damages, even though he didn’t know the dog was aggressive. So, what qualifies as a “serious injury” for a dog owner to be held strictly liable for any harm his dog caused?

  • An injury that caused a substantial risk of death
  • An injury that had a substantial risk of permanently disfiguring the victim
  • An injury that created a serious risk of protracted loss or impairment of a body part or an organ
  • Any injury involving fractures or second or third-degree burns

For the state’s strict liability law to apply, the bite or attack must have occurred on public property or the victim must have been lawfully on private property.

When Does the Negligence Rule Apply to Dog Bite Laws in Colorado?

If a dog bite was less serious and it did not involve a serious or fatal injury, then Colorado’s negligence rule would apply. In this case, the injured party would have to show that the dog’s owner did not use reasonable care to control or restrain their pet and as a direct result of that failure, the dog injured the plaintiff (the injured party).

What Are Common Defenses for a Dog Bite Claim in Colorado?

  • The injured party was trespassing;
  • The dog’s owner had “Beware of Dog” or “No Trespassing” signs clearly posted on his or her property;
  • The injured party provoked the dog; OR
  • The injured party worked with dogs, for example, they worked at a veterinarian clinic, they were a groomer, a professional dog handler, they worked for the Humane Society, or they were working at a dog show.

If you were injured by someone else’s dog and you want to explore filing a dog bite claim, I invite you to contact my firm to schedule a free consultation.

Next: Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Colorado