Compared to many other states, Colorado has a unique approach to addressing liability for farm animals. Your right to claim damages caused by livestock will depend on the circumstances involved.
As a nearby farmer or property owner, your right to claim any sort of damages stemming from the actions of livestock will depend on your property decisions. You can only claim damages if you had a lawful and appropriate fence around your property at the time that the livestock incident occurred. If you do not have your own fence in place, you likely won’t have any grounds to claim damages if someone else’s livestock winds up on your property.
Thankfully, for those in vehicles at the time of an unfortunate livestock encounter, they typically have rights, regardless of where the incident takes place. That is because allowing animals out onto public property is a form of negligence and also violates state rules.
Livestock in the road can cause major issues
Even if you’ve never seen a cow up close, you don’t need to have a very vivid imagination to realize how much damage a cow could do to a vehicle. The animal would likely die in a crash occurring between an enclosed passenger vehicle and a large bovine.
The people in the car may suffer severe injuries and trauma from witnessing the crash, which could very well have dramatic consequences. The weight and size of a cow also ensure that it will do substantial damage to a vehicle, potentially even resulting in total damage if the crash bends the frame or damages the axles in any way.
Even if roaming livestock didn’t cause a crash, they could cause traffic issues and damage the roads paid for with taxpayer funds, which is likely why lawmakers do not permit livestock in city limits or on public roads.
Owners can’t let their livestock get onto the road or into municipalities
Livestock animals have no place on roads frequented by motor vehicles unless crossing a road to another pasture while monitored by humans for safety and traffic concerns. Unfortunately, animals can and do escape their enclosures, especially if the owners have not engaged in adequate maintenance of their fencing or animal facilities.
Different kinds of livestock have different fencing requirements. Most cows and horses, for example, may stay in a pasture with nothing but an electric fence, while goats are notorious for knocking down and escaping from almost any kind of fence humans can build.
Those who own livestock in Colorado have a legal obligation to the public to provide appropriate facilities for their livestock, which will typically include enclosures or fencing that prevent the animals from getting on the public property. If you suffer property damage or get hurt in a crash between your vehicle and livestock, you may have grounds to hold the owner accountable for your losses.