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what damages are recoverable from a dog bite injury

What Damages Are Recoverable from a Dog Bite?

If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury, you may wonder what damages you can recover. Typically, damages for a dog bite claim include economic and non-economic losses, and in some cases, punitive damages. Economic damages cover medical bills, lost income, and future earning capacity. Non-economic damages compensate for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer. Factors such as the severity of injuries, medical bills, and the impact on your ability to work influence the amount of damages you can receive

Dogs aren’t just pets. Many people consider dogs to be members of their family. So, it’s hard to think they can ever cause harm. But unfortunately, they do. Dog bite injuries can be horrific and leave you maimed or scarred. It’s hard not to lose hope when bills are mounting and you’re in extreme pain. You want to hold the dog owner accountable. But, you may wonder about the following: 

If a dog bites you or a loved one, you can recover damages from the dog owner. Contact an experienced Colorado dog bite lawyer at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., and let us help you.

Damages for Dog Bite Personal Injury Cases

Damages for a dog bite claim depend on the facts of the case, but you may be able to receive economic and non-economic damages. In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded. A dog bite lawyer can review your case to calculate the appropriate value of your damages.

Nikki Nicholaou was incredibly helpful and responsive. I felt very comfortable with my case in her hands, which was a great decision because she won me a settlement before we had to go to court
Veronica Blake
Veronica Blake
Highly recommended.
Andy B
Andy B
One day in June, 2019, our world was turned upside down. My husband was nearly killed by a motorist while riding his bicycle. He was lucky to come away from the accident with “only” a neck broken in 5 places, facing surgery and a long two-year recovery period. His extreme pain, our anger, and the total shock of the event overwhelmed us. We decided to focus all our energy on his healing. Dealing with the insurance company was more than we could handle. So, a little investigation brought us to Sloat & Nicholson. During the first phone conversation, Randy Nicholson explained that we could not only file a claim against the driver’s insurance, but also against our Underinsured Motorist insurance. Randy also explained that it was likely that he would have to fight Mike’s health insurance which would certainly ask to be totally reimbursed for their expenses. We’d learned that it was a bigger issue than we’d expected, but we knew we had found someone who could help us, and that has a great relief. After that first call, and in the subsequent months of meeting with Randy and his team, we knew we’d made the best possible decision. Randy got the full claim against the driver’s insurance. He convinced our health insurance that they had no standing in filing a claim against us. We didn’t have to pay them anything. And he negotiated with our Underinsured Motorist insurance and got the full claim against them as well. It was not easy, and Randy worked hard. He completely relieved us of a ton of stress. He kept us informed each step of the way. Every time we worked with him and his team, we became more and more convinced that we’d made the right decision. We were so glad we found Sloat and Nicholson. After the accident, we felt like the world was against us. The court system totally dropped the ball, and we constantly had to fight back our anger at the driver and the judge. But we had Randy Nicholson and his team on our side, and we are forever grateful to all of them.
midge castillo
midge castillo
I was in a car accident and needed legal advice. Robert Hoover was both professional and informative! He was so helpful, and I would recommend him to anyone. I also appreciated his Christian perspective!
colleen G.
colleen G.
I was a case form many years ago Gerald handled everything completely professionally there is not one thing I would do differently My case was complicated but the end result was everything that I was entitled to! If your case is in his practice area I highly recommend a phone call consultation or visit to his office. You won't be disappointed his years of experience knowledge and fair treatment of his clients would not be more apparent!
Adam Townson
Adam Townson
Jerry Sloat and his staff treated our family with great respect and helped us to receive compensation for the injuries, pain and suffering we incurred during a car accident. We owe him so much and are truly grateful that we stopped trying to deal with the insurance company and allowed Jerry and his wonderful team of professional to take care of everything for us.
Leonard Romano
Leonard Romano
Gerry Sloat was amazing, after my car wreck I was at a loss on what was going on. I didn't know the process or what to even expect. I turned to him because he was the only one willing to take the time and speak with me to answer all my questions. My insurance company wouldn't even call me back to answer my question of what was happening. Gerry took quite a bit of time explaining the different aspects of the insurance and the other driver and the county issues that I didn't even know where separate, he really set my mind at ease with my mind running with all of the "what ifs" I now know where I stand and what to expect going further and can now make informed decisions on what I need to be prepared for what lies ahead! Thank you again Mr Sloat!
landa raddon
landa raddon
Gerry Sloat was a very skilled and helpful attorney when I needed one to negotiate a settlement for many, many medical bills resulting from a head on collision. What impressed me most was his fair handedness in dealing with us, but also with dealing with the other parties involved. Further, since the accident a half dozen years ago, he has been more than helpful in answering questions about all matters of the law, and seems to genuinely enjoy hearing from me when I call. A stellar human and an outstandingly thorough attorney.
Bonnie Carol
Bonnie Carol
Ever since I started working with with Robert Hoover it's been more like working with family he's taking the time to get to know me and my family on a personal level the office staff know by name and they are the best
Jason Swartz
Jason Swartz

Economic Damages

Economic damages are direct, quantifiable losses. They include the following:

Recoverable damages for dog bites
  • Medical bills. These bills include medical expenses such as hospital stays, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, surgeries, prescriptions, therapy, and rehabilitation.
  • Loss of income. You can recover lost income if you had to take off work after a dog bite incident.
  • Loss of future earning capacity. After a dog bite, you can recover the loss of future income if you take a long time off or work fewer hours. If you can no longer perform the same job, you can recover the income you would have received.

You may be able to recover economic damages based on strict liability. Under the Colorado dog bite statute, if a person suffers serious bodily injury from a dog bite, they can recover economic damages from the dog owner. Strict liability means that you can recover economic losses without having to prove that the owner was negligent. Non-economic losses are not available under the theory of strict liability. In other words, the owner has to pay your direct expenses related to the bite whether or not they knew their dog was dangerous or had the predisposition to bite someone. 

However, you can get economic damages and non-economic damages if you successfully sue the dog owner for negligence. This requires proving the owner was negligent—which usually means proving that the owner knew or should have known that their dog could be violent and did not take steps to protect you. Usually, you prove this by showing that the dog exhibited a propensity for violence in the past.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic losses are more complex to assess than economic damages because there are no receipts or invoices to tally up. A dog bite attorney can help paint a picture of your pain and suffering. To do this, they will compare your daily life after the dog attack to before the attack. They will also help describe your psychological state of mind, your outlook on life, and any changes that have transpired since the bite. As stated, non-economic damages are not recoverable under strict liability. You can only recover non-economic damages under a negligence claim.

Examples of pain and suffering include the following:

  • Pain,
  • Emotional distress,
  •  Loss of consortium,
  • Disfigurement,
  • Physical impairment, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

Colorado law sets the limit for pain and suffering damages at $642,180 unless there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence, whereby the limit would be $1,284,370. This limit applies to injuries occurring from 2022 to 2024. If the dog bite happened before 2022, then the cap is lower. There is no cap for physical impairment or disfigurement. A dog bite attorney can help you calculate these subjective losses.

Punitive Damages in a Dog Bite Case

Courts award punitive damages to personal injury victims to punish the responsible party. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to make victims whole again. Instead, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter particularly wrongful behavior. Judges rarely award punitive damages, as they are reserved for cases where the defendant’s actions are shocking or horrific. Your lawyer will fight to get punitive damages if your case seems particularly grievous.

What Factors Affect Dog Bite Damages?

Different factors can influence the amount of damages you can get. Common factors include the following:

  • The severity of the injuries,
  • Medical bills, and
  • The effect injury has on your ability to work.

Also, the distribution of fault will affect damages in a dog bite negligence case. Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state. That means a plaintiff can still recover damages in a negligence claim as long as their percentage of fault does not exceed the other party’s fault. However, their compensation will be diminished based on their percentage of fault.

For example, a plaintiff who is 49% at fault for the dog bite incident can still recover for their injuries. However, they can only recover 51% of their damages. If a plaintiff was 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover compensation.

Contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C.

At Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., our compassionate and zealous personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined legal experience fighting for their clients’ rights and justice. Never try to handle a dog bite case alone. Let us help so you can focus on your recovery. We have devoted our entire legal practice to helping injured individuals by holding negligent parties responsible for their actions. Contact us now for a free case evaluation by one of our seasoned dog bite lawyers.

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