The Legal Implications of Dog Bite Injuries: Liability and Compensation in Nevada

by Gina Corena

Last Updated on November 04,2023

The Legal Implications of Dog Bite Injuries: Liability and Compensation in Nevada

The United States Postal Service recently highlighted the ongoing issue of dog attacks on mail carriers through its Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign. The initiative aims to educate the public about the risks dogs pose to postal workers and offers suggestions for reducing the likelihood of attacks. In 2022, over 5,300 postal employees faced dog attacks, with 15 of these incidents occurring in Las Vegas. 

Candice Smith, a Las Vegas mail carrier, emphasized the unpredictability of dogs and recommended owners keep their pets indoors or on a leash when a mail carrier is nearby. DeAnna Hernandez, a safety manager for the Nevada-Utah USPS District, noted the following safety tips not only protects mail carriers but also shields dog owners from potential liability.

In Nevada, dog bite laws operate primarily under the principle of “negligence,” meaning a dog owner may be held responsible if it can be proven they failed to exercise reasonable care in controlling their pet. Unlike some states following a “one-bite rule,” which shields owners from liability if the dog has never bitten before, Nevada focuses on whether the owner acted carelessly. For example, letting a dog roam freely in a public area without a leash could be considered negligent behavior.

Local ordinances can play a role in dog bite cases. Some cities in Nevada have specific rules about leashes and enclosures, and violating these could strengthen a victim’s case. However, if a person provokes a dog or trespasses on the owner’s property, these actions could serve as defenses for the dog owner. 

How Strict Liability Affects Dog Owners in Nevada

In Nevada, the concept of “strict liability” isn’t generally applied to dog bite cases as it is in some other states. Strict liability means a dog owner would be automatically responsible for any harm caused by their pet, regardless of prior behavior or circumstances. Instead, Nevada leans more towards a negligence-based system. In this framework, the focus is on whether the dog owner failed to take reasonable steps to control their animal or prevent the attack.

However, some local jurisdictions within Nevada may have ordinances imposing strict liability under specific conditions. For instance, if a dog is classified as “dangerous” or “vicious” based on past behavior, an owner could face stricter penalties and liability. It’s important for both dog owners and potential victims to be aware of local laws, as they can vary and may impact the outcome of a dog bite case.

Medical Expenses After a Dog Bite: What Compensation Covers

After a dog bite incident, medical costs can pile up quickly. From initial emergency room visits to ongoing treatments like rabies shots or physical therapy, the financial burden can be significant. In Nevada, victims can seek compensation to cover these medical expenses as part of a dog bite claim. Compensation may also extend to future medical costs if long-term care is needed.

Beyond immediate medical needs, compensation can cover other health-related costs. Psychological counseling is often necessary for victims, especially children, who may develop a fear of dogs or experience trauma. Additionally, if the injury leads to time off work, lost wages can also be part of the compensation package. 

Steps to Take Immediately Following a Canine Attack

In the moments following a canine attack, quick action can make a significant difference in both medical outcomes and the strength of a potential claim. First, victims should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Immediate care minimizes the risk of infection and provides a medical record that can be useful later. Second, gathering evidence is important. Taking photos of injuries, the location of the attack, and the dog itself can offer valuable context.

Third, witnesses can provide key information. Collecting names and contact details of anyone who saw the incident can help corroborate a victim’s account. Fourth, it’s beneficial to identify the dog and its owner. Knowing whether the dog has a history of aggression or has been vaccinated for rabies can be important for both medical treatment and legal considerations. Lastly, filing a report with local animal control provides an official record of the incident, which can be useful in any subsequent proceedings.

Role of Witnesses in Strengthening a Dog Bite Claim

Witnesses can play a significant role in reinforcing a dog bite claim. Their accounts can offer an unbiased perspective on the incident, helping to establish facts such as the location of the attack, the behavior of the dog, and actions taken by the dog owner. Witness statements can also help counter any defenses the dog owner might raise, such as claiming the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing.

In some cases, witnesses might even have captured video or photographic evidence, which can be particularly compelling. Moreover, witnesses can help confirm the severity of the attack, supporting claims for medical expenses, emotional distress, and other damages. Collecting contact information from witnesses at the scene of the incident can be a smart move, as their testimony may be sought at a later date. Overall, witnesses can provide essential support in establishing the facts and circumstances surrounding a dog bite incident.

Psychological Trauma: An Often Overlooked Aspect of Dog Bite Cases

When people think of dog bites, physical injuries often come to mind first. However, psychological trauma is another significant aspect that shouldn’t be ignored. Victims, especially children, may develop a lasting fear of dogs, which can affect their daily lives and interactions. Some may even experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks, nightmares, or heightened anxiety.

Psychological trauma can also have financial implications. Therapy or counseling may be needed to help victims cope with emotional distress. In a dog bite claim, these psychological damages can sometimes be included in the compensation sought. While it may be more challenging to quantify emotional suffering compared to medical bills, the impact on a victim’s quality of life is undeniable. Therefore, considering psychological trauma enriches the understanding of the full scope of damages in dog bite cases.

Common Defenses Employed by Dog Owners

Dog Bite Injury

When faced with a dog bite claim, dog owners often employ certain defenses to avoid liability. One common argument is provocation. Owners may claim a victim provoked the dog, leading to the attack. Another frequently used defense is trespassing. If a person is bitten while unlawfully on the owner’s property, the owner might argue they are not responsible for the injuries sustained.

In some instances, owners may assert the victim assumed the risk by engaging in an activity where dog bites are a known hazard, such as working as a dog groomer or a veterinarian. Additionally, local laws and ordinances can sometimes provide defenses. For example, if a city has a leash law and the dog was properly leashed at the time of the incident, it could potentially impact the claim. Understanding these common defenses can help victims anticipate challenges faced when pursuing a dog bite claim.

If you have suffered a dog bite injury, call 702-680-1111 or contact our experienced legal team today, and we will work to get the compensation you deserve

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