Liability in Mesa County Dog Parks
Mesa County is home to dozens of serene parks, great places to get lost in on a morning jog or evening bike ride. Throughout spring and summer, our parks fill up with family parties and barbeques as we all try to enjoy the fresh air. Our county is also home to several dog parks, where owners take their furry friends to get some exercise while they socialize with other owners. However, dog owners should never let their guard down, even in off-leash areas, as it is very easy for a dog to get territorial and bite an innocent pedestrian who was just trying to enjoy the park.
How Do Bites Happen at Dog Parks?
Dog parks are specific areas in which city or county governments allow dogs to roam off-leash. While Colorado does not have a specific leash law, Mesa County does require dogs to wear leashes when out in public. City-specific dog parks are the exception to this rule, but owners must still keep their dogs within hearing range and control them with voice commands.
For pet owners, dog parks are seen as the perfect chance to relax and let their pets run free, but this can be a huge mistake. Dogs are naturally territorial animals, and without proper training, they may act aggressive when out in public. When let loose in a park, a dog may get violent with strangers or other dogs, leading to serious injuries.
A major factor is how well the dog handles anxiety. Dogs that have been re-sheltered, grew up in small homes, or were not taught to socialize with other dogs or people while puppies can grow anxious when around strangers. If an owner takes a newly adopted dog to a park without preparing it beforehand, the dog may act aggressively and lash out.
Correct, consistent training is key to getting dogs to behave when out in public. Dogs should listen to commands, not bristle or bark when approached by strangers, and feel comfortable around loud noises and new places. Unfortunately, many owners treat their pets as guard dogs and keep them to defend their homes, which can make it difficult for the dogs to then behave when in public.
Even when taken to a seemingly peaceful dog park, such as Grand Junction’s very own Canyon View or Las Colonias Dog Park, these dogs may prove too much for their owners to handle. Dog owners must always be in control of their pets and should carefully review local dog park rules before letting their pets loose.
Who Is Liable for Dog Bites in Colorado?
The state of Colorado is a strict liability state with regard to dog bites. According to C.R.S 13-21-124, if a dog bites someone, inflicting serious bodily injury, then the owner is liable for all financial damages the victim suffered due to the serious bodily injury. These types of injuries can include:
- Broken bones
- Permanent disfigurements, such as deep lacerations and scarring
- Disabilities, such as nerve damage
- The risk of death, such as due to trauma, head wounds, blood loss, and infections
Typically, this means that a victim can pursue compensation for all his medical bills and lost wages by making a claim against the dog owner’s homeowners insurance. If the dog was being watched by a dog walker or trainer, the owner will still bear responsibility for the victim’s injuries.
In order to recover compensation for a dog bite, you need to prove that:
- You were legally on public land or privately controlled property;
- Another person’s dog caused your injuries; and
- You did not provoke or instigate the attack, such as by attacking the dog or its owner.
Proving these elements can be difficult if the owner’s insurance company tries to fight your claim or argue that you are at fault for your own injuries. To get the best shot at compensation, you will need to work with an experienced Grand Junction personal injury attorney at Peters & Nolan, LLC. We have decades of combined experience recovering millions of dollars for injured clients. We understand local laws and ordinances and can use case history to fight for your rights. Call us at (970) 243-4357 to discuss your case in a free consultation. We will fight for your best interests.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.