Liability for Dog Bites: Holding Owners Accountable in Nevada

by Gina Corena

Last Updated on September 29,2023

Liability for Dog Bites: Holding Owners Accountable in Nevada

When a 6 year-old girl and her aunt and grandmother were walking in Sunset Dog Park on East Warm Springs Road in March 2022, a large “wolf-like’ dog tackled and injured the girl. The dog’s owner pulled the dog away from the child, but then left the scene, and the family has asked for help in identifying and locating the owner. In the state of Nevada, strict liability laws are in place for dog bites. This means the dog’s owner is responsible for damages if their pet bites someone, regardless of the animal’s prior behavior. It doesn’t matter if the dog has never shown aggression before or if the owner was unaware of any potential threat. The central aspect of strict liability is the act of the dog biting itself. However, Nevada’s law doesn’t make this a simple open-and-shut case. Several factors can come into play, such as the location of the incident and whether the victim provoked the dog. 

Delineating the Rights of Dog Bite Victims in Nevada

Dog bite victims in Nevada have certain rights under the law. Most notably, they have the right to seek compensation for damages. These damages can cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages if the victim had to miss work, and more. In certain cases, victims can even seek punitive damages from the dog’s owner. However, it’s important to note that these rights aren’t automatic. If the dog was provoked or the victim was trespassing, their rights may be limited. 

When Man’s Best Friend Becomes a Threat: The Ramifications of Dog Bites

While dogs are often cherished members of the family, it’s important to remember that they can sometimes become a threat. The consequences of dog bites can be severe. Victims may suffer physical injuries that range from minor puncture wounds to serious disfigurement or even life-threatening infections. The psychological trauma can also be significant, leading to fear or anxiety around dogs, which might last a lifetime. Furthermore, the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and potential time off work can impose a substantial financial burden. 

In Nevada, dog owners have certain legal responsibilities to keep the public safe. They are required to keep their dogs under control at all times, especially in public areas. This might mean using a leash or ensuring that fences and gates are secure. If a dog is known to be aggressive or dangerous, owners have a higher responsibility to prevent any harm. If they fail in these duties and their dog causes injury, they could be held legally accountable. The intention behind these obligations is not just about placing blame, but more so about fostering a culture of responsible pet ownership that respects and protects the safety of everyone in the community.

Decoding the ‘One Bite Rule’ and its Applicability in Nevada

Nevada is unique in its approach to dog bite liability because it does not strictly adhere to the “One Bite Rule”. This rule, prevalent in some states, essentially shields the dog owner from liability if the dog has never bitten someone before, indicating that the owner had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. In Nevada, however, the rule doesn’t fully apply. While the dog’s past behavior can be considered, it doesn’t exempt the owner from responsibility. Even if a dog has no prior history of aggression, the owner could still be held accountable if their pet bites someone, further emphasizing the importance of responsible pet ownership.

Landlord Liability for Dog Bites: A Grey Area in Nevada’s Law

In Nevada, the question of landlord liability for dog bites falls into a somewhat gray legal area. If a tenant’s dog bites someone, the responsibility usually rests with the dog’s owner. However, under certain circumstances, a landlord could potentially be held liable. For example, if the landlord knew of the dog’s aggressive nature and failed to take appropriate action, they could share responsibility for any ensuing harm. Additionally, if the landlord has control over the premises and could have removed a dangerous dog but didn’t, they may be liable. It’s a complex issue that highlights the importance of vigilance and responsibility, not just for pet owners, but for those who rent to them as well.

The Role of Negligence in Nevada Dog Bite Cases

In Nevada dog bite cases, the concept of negligence often plays a significant role. Negligence can be defined as the omission to exercise the same degree of caution and care that a reasonable individual would have demonstrated in a comparable circumstance. If a dog owner is aware of a pet’s aggressive tendencies, fails to properly restrain their dog, and this leads to a bite, they may be considered negligent. The presence of negligence can influence the outcome of a dog bite case. In instances where negligence is established, the dog owner can be held liable for the victim’s damages. 

Possible Defenses for Dog Owners: Limitations of the Liability Law

While Nevada law generally holds dog owners accountable for bites, there are certain defenses that could limit their liability. One common defense is provocation. If the victim provoked the dog into attacking, the owner might not be held responsible. Another defense is trespassing. If the victim was unlawfully on the owner’s property when the bite occurred, the owner’s liability might be reduced. Also, if the victim knowingly took a risk with an aggressive dog, the “assumption of risk” defense might apply. While these defenses exist, they are not always easy to prove. 

Compensation After a Dog Bite: What Victims Can Expect in Nevada

Dog Bite Incident

In Nevada, victims of dog bites are entitled to seek compensation for their injuries. This compensation can cover a wide range of costs, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In certain severe cases, where the owner’s negligence was especially egregious, victims might also be awarded punitive damages. However, the exact amount of compensation can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of each case, such as the severity of the injuries and the degree of the owner’s negligence. It’s also important to remember that this is a legal process, and securing compensation requires presenting a clear case of the owner’s liability under Nevada law.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that there are other special concerns when it comes to personal injury claims in Nevada. For instance, undocumented immigrants may face unique challenges when seeking compensation after an accident. Similarly, victims of nursing home abuse have their own set of considerations to address. Additionally, understanding the intricacies of dram shop liability can be crucial for those affected by it.

If you are involved in a dog bite incident, 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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