Dog Bites and Animal Negligence in Nevada; Dog Bite Attorneys

Posted by: on Fri, Apr 26, 2013

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4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Up to 20% of dog bites each year result in injuries that require medical attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery in order to repair the wounds and scars caused by dog bites in 2006. Being aware of Nevada’s dog bite laws is essential in getting through the complications that often occur after a bite. The number of dog bite injuries is more than the reported cases of mumps, measles and whooping cough combined, and that is just the reported bites. Many dog bites go unreported each year.

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Each year approximately 800,000 dog bites occur nationwide that require medical care. The American Humane Association says the most severe attacks typically happen because city dwellers select large, aggressive breeds of dogs for personal protection. It is made worse when the victim is a small child. Dog bites are a major public health problem not only for the associated risk of acquiring secondary infections and occasional death due to trauma (which occurs often in children) but also for the possibility of contracting rabies which, if left untreated, is almost invariably fatal.

Some insurance companies say certain breeds pose too high a risk to be included in homeowners insurance, while dog owners say that’s not fair.

An insurance company’s TV ad says dog bites account for one third of all liability claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the insurance industry saw more than $478 million in liability claims associated with dog bites in 2011. The average cost for a dog bite claim is $30,000. That’s more than a 50-percent increase in the past 10 years.

Millions of Americans own dogs. For the most part, the dogs serve a dual purpose. They are great pets or companions, and at the same time they often provide security for their owners and their families. Sometimes, however, the security aspect backfires. Suddenly, the dog that’s supposed to protect you from losses – like theft – causes you huge financial losses. You may have to pay for the victim’s injuries on top of your own legal expenses. At Albright Stoddard, we have owned many dogs and have been bitten! Ironically, the security training received by some security dogs may increase the owner’s liability.

Dog Bite Laws

Just about every state has some sort of law that deals with dog bites. These laws can vary a lot from state to state, so you need to check the laws in your area to see how dog bites are treated. In general, though, there are three basics types of laws that may make you legally responsible or “liable” for injuries or damages caused by your dog:

  • Strict liability laws
  • “One Bite” laws
  • Negligence laws

Strict Liability:

Many states, such as California, New Jersey, and Ohio, have strict liability laws regarding dog bites. Basically, a strict liability law means that you, as the dog’s owner, are liable for just about every injury your dog causes. It doesn’t matter if you knew your dog was dangerous or had previously bitten someone. It also doesn’t matter if you did everything you could to restrain your dog or to protect the public from the dog, such as putting up a fence and/or signs.

There are a few exceptions, though. Even in a strict liability state, you’re usually not liable if your dog bites: (a) a trespasser, that is, someone who’s on your property without your permission; (b) a veterinarian who’s treating your dog; or (c) someone who provokes the dog, such as by hitting it with his or her hand or a stick.

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One Bite Laws:

In states like Texas or Virginia, you’re generally not liable for injuries caused by your dog’s first bite. That means your dog gets “one free bite”, and you’ll be liable for injuries caused on the second bite. For example, your dog, for the first time ever, bites someone as she walks past your home. Then, a few days later, your dog bites another person as he walks by. In a “one bite” state, assuming you didn’t violate some other law (like a leash law) or weren’t negligent (you left the fence gate open) you won’t be liable for the first victim’s injuries. However, because you knew the dog had bitten someone in the past (the first victim), you’ll probably be liable for the second victim’s injury.

Some exceptions may apply. The “one bite” rule doesn’t protect you if, before the first bite, you actually knew, or had a reason to believe, that your dog had a dangerous propensity. “Dangerous propensity” means you knew, or should have known, that your dog could hurt someone. It can be shown in any number of ways, including if: a) the dog had bitten someone in the past, that is, it had its “first bite” already; b) the dog regularly snaps at people, or has to wear a muzzle “just to be safe,” or c) you warn people that the dog bites.

Negligence:

Almost all states have laws that hold you responsible for injuries caused by your negligence or “negligent acts.” Negligence is a complicated area of law, with many factors and exceptions. In simple terms, though, negligence is when you do something you shouldn’t have done, or don’t do something you should have, which causes another person’s injuries.

When it comes to dog bites, you may be negligent if your dog bites someone because:

  • You let the dog run free even though there’s a leash law where you live;
  • You know the dog is “high-strung” or easily excited and you don’t take reasonable steps to shield others from the dog, such as keeping the dog away from house guests;
  • Your fence (or rope or chain) isn’t secure enough to restrain the dog; or

In some states, negligence can be used to hold you liable even if you may not be liable under the strict liability or one-bite law in your state.

Also, you need to keep in mind that many local governments have laws, ordinances, or regulations about controlling dogs. It’s important that you talk to your lawyer as a soon as possible if you’re sued or if you or a loved one has been bitten. Tragically some of the worst cases in the area have been when children fall or jump into the back yard where the dogs are kept.

Nevada Dog Laws

Any dog bite or attack that results in an injury is sufficient grounds for filing a personal injury claim. Owners can be held liable to compensate victims for any physical or emotional damages if it is determined that the owner’s negligence led to the injury. Nevada does not have an explicit law or statute relating to dog bite liability, but there is a statute regarding dangerous and vicious dogs. According to Nevada statute §202.500, a “dangerous dog” is any dog that, without provocation, on two separate occasions within 18 months, behaves menacingly to the point where people would have to defend themselves when the dog is off the premises of its owner or not confined in a cage or vehicle. A dog is considered “vicious” when, without being provoked, it kills or injuries a person.

Whether or not a dog has a history of being dangerous or vicious can play an important role in your dog bite case. For instance, it is explicitly illegal to own, keep, or transfer ownership of a vicious dog in Nevada. Owners of dogs that are deemed dangerous can also be held liable in court for any injuries their dogs caused. Our experienced attorneys at Albright Stoddard are prepared to handle any complexities that may arise. By working with you to file a personal injury claim, we can determine the extent of negligence involved, the past behavior of the dog and owner in question, and any other facts and information relevant to the case.

In Nevada, a dog owner is responsible to control and restrain his animal. It is a risk to public safety to ignore this responsibility. If you’ve been attacked while on public property or while legally on private property, the owner may be liable. This is particularly true if:

  • The animal wasn’t properly secured on the owner’s premises;
  • The animal wasn’t on a leash;
  • The owner knew the animal was prone to violence.

The owner of a dog may be liable for anyone who is injured or killed by a dog bite. Further, the owner can be held responsible for negligence if you can prove that the owner failed to exercise ordinary care in controlling the dog. This can include failure to warn of the dog’s dangerous traits, failing to restrain a dangerous dog, or engaging in conduct likely to excite the dog causing him to knock down or injure someone. Additionally, if the dog was unleashed and you were in a city with a leash law, there may be a presumption that the owner was negligent. Call our attorneys at Albright Stoddard to analyze the particular facts of your case.

Do I need a lawyer if a dog attacks me?

Dog bites can result in serious bodily injuries and infections such as rabies. In addition to physical harm, dog bites can cause significant emotional distress for their victims. If a dog has attacked you, a personal injury attorney can help you get fair compensation for your injuries. The personal injury lawyers at Albright Stoddard Warnick & Albright in Las Vegas, NV can handle dog bite lawsuits. Our attorneys are well versed in Nevada dog bite law to help our clients get the most out of their lawsuits. Frequently, homeowner’s insurance policies provide some coverage for these types of cases.

Experienced dog bite lawyers understand the toll a dog attack can take on victims. Dog bites can inflict severe, permanent physical and emotional harm on their victims, including:

  • Abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Tissue loss
  • Broken bones
  • Scars
  • Rabies
  • Cellulitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

A capable Nevada personal injury attorney can help you recoup losses from mounting medical bills and time off from work as a result of injuries. Give our attorneys at Albright Stoddard a call today at 702-384-7111. We know dogs!

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on personal injury accidents. Call us at 702-384-7111.

Note: This article, and any other information you obtain at this website, is not offered as legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such, nor is it a solicitation for legal services. Only a licensed attorney can advise you with respect to your specific legal needs. We welcome your contacting our firm to discuss such representation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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