If you unknowingly walk onto, or through some else’s property, are you legally liable? What if you’re bike riding and the same thing happens?
A Colorado woman is asking the courts to answer these questions after she was seriously injured while participating in a bicycle cross country race.
Renee Legro was on the last hill of a race in which she was participating when she found herself in the midst of a herd of sheep. Before she knew what was happening, two huge dogs were pulling her down.
The Great Pyrenees dogs were trained shepherding dogs used to protect this herd of sheep. Nearby campers heard Legro screaming, and ran to help. They were able to scare off the dogs and call for help.
Legro was severely injured with a broken ankle and deep bite wounds. She also suffered emotional damages; her psychiatrist testified that she suffered some of the worst post traumatic stress that he had ever seen outside of war veterans.
The owner of the dogs, rancher Samuel Robinson, was criminally convicted under the state’s “dangerous dog” law. But Legro decided to file a civil suit against Robinson and his wife, alleging negligence.
The Robinson’s counter-sued arguing that this case fell under the Premises Liability Act, which states that landowners are not liable if an attack occurs on their property. The courts agreed with the Robinsons.
However, Legro was not finished. She appealed her case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which ruled that the Robinsons were not protected by the Dog Bite Law. In turn, the Robinsons appealed to the state Supreme Court, which sent the case back to trial.
Before trial, the District Attorney threw out Legro’s claim, classifying her as a “trespasser”. She appealed one last time, and this time, she won her case. She received a $1-million settlement from the Robinson’s insurance company.
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