Dogs are the most popular pet in the United States, and the majority are loyal companions and live up to the name of “man’s best friend.” About 69 million U.S. households own dogs — that’s over 76% of American pet-owning homes.
Unfortunately, not all dogs just want to sit, stay, and receive belly rubs. No one ever truly expects to be attacked or bit, which can make the occurrence even more traumatic. If you or a loved one sustain injuries from an attack by a dog, you may have a right to compensation.
Choosing the right dog bite injury lawyer can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. The experienced attorneys at Morris Injury Law are dedicated to understanding the unique circumstances of your case so that they can provide you with the best strategy for recovery. If you are attacked by a dog, we encourage you to contact a Las Vegas dog bite attorney who has your best interest in mind. Morris Injury Law is here to help.
Las Vegas Dog Attack Laws
Nevada does not have a statewide statute regarding dog bites, so the location where you are bitten will make a difference in how your case is handled. This is another reason that it is important to hire a Las Vegas dog bite lawyer. Under Clark County law, an owner whose dog bites another person faces civil liability when the animal has demonstrated a previous history of aggression and the owner knew or should have been aware of the previous aggression.
Here are some situations that may constitute dog bite liability in Las Vegas:
- The dog has previously bitten someone (one bite rule),
- The dog has been classified by animals control as “vicious” or “dangerous,”
- The dog owner handled the dog negligently, or
- The owner was in violation of a municipal statute regarding ownership of the dog.
Every dog bite has a unique circumstance. It is important to understand the actions and intentions of all parties involved and how liability is assigned.
Nevada One Bite Rule
The state of Nevada follows the “one bite rule.” Unless the dog owner was negligent, they are generally not liable for injuries caused by a dog bite if the dog has never bitten anyone before. Once the dog bites someone, from that point forward, the owner may be liable for damages, depending on the classification of the dog. In Nevada, a dog who bites someone may be classified as “vicious” or “dangerous.” Neither classification depends on the dog’s breed.
Dangerous Dog Classification in Nevada
Owning a dangerous dog in Nevada is not illegal. But owners of dangerous dogs are required to follow all state and municipal laws. A dangerous dog in Nevada is defined in three ways:
- The dog has behaved menacingly toward people twice in 18 months,
- The behavior was unprovoked by pain or torment, and
- The dog was either off-leash or “at large.”
Some of the relevant dog laws may include obtaining a permit for the dog from the Animal Regulation Office, neutering, securing the dog from others, and maintaining liability insurance for the dog in case of an attack. Owners with pets classified as dangerous could face criminal charges if they are found in violation of the rules.
Vicious Dog Classification in Nevada
A vicious dog is a step up from the classification of “dangerous.” A dog is considered vicious in Nevada under the following circumstances:
- They continue to act menacingly after being classified as “dangerous” or
- They cause substantial bodily harm or death to a person.
A dog owner may facecriminal charges if they keep a vicious dog. In the case of injury or death, the dog owner may be civilly liable for the victim’s damages.
Negligent Dog Owner
If a dog owner fails to take reasonable precautions in a situation involving the dog, they may still be liable even if the pet has never bitten anyone before. There are four basic elements of negligence:
- The dog owner had a duty of care,
- They breached this duty,
- The breach caused injury to the victim, and
- The injury resulted in damages.
For example, letting an untrained dog play unsupervised with a small child could be considered negligent. Another example would be if a dog has recently had surgery, and the owner fails to notify someone that they should not pet the dog, and the dog lashes out in pain.
Nevada Dog Bite Negligence “Per Se” Law
Under Nevada’s “negligence per se” law, the owner of a dog is automatically considered negligent if they are in violation of state or local animal laws when the attack occurs. The actual actions of the owner are not relevant if they were not in legal compliance.
Clark County requires all dogs to be kept secured on the owner’s property by a fence, leash, cage, chain, or other adequate means to prevent escape. If you were bit in Las Vegas by a dog that was off-leash in a public place, the owner might be liable for damages even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Dog Laws on the Las Vegas Strip
Most of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are dog friendly, but the strip can be a dangerous and scary place for pets. Known for bright lights and poor judgment, walking a dog during peak business hours could be asking for trouble.
Dogs are allowed to walk on the Las Vegas strip from five in the morning until noon. Dogs being walked during this time have to be on a leash no longer than three feet. Thisordinance extends between Sahara Avenue and Sunset Road, the busiest part of the strip, which is approximately seven miles total. In case you want to take your pet snake out during this time, it is important to know that it can’t be longer than two feet.
Defenses to Dog Bite Liability
There are some situations where the dog bite victim is not entitled to damages. These exceptions are valid when a dog was acting in defense of itself or its owner. Defenses include:
- The victim of the dog bite was committing or attempting to commit an offense against the owner,
- A person or other animal provoked the dog,
- The pet owner was unaware that the dog was dangerous, or
- A person or another animal was trespassing on the owner’s property.
Provocation is a common defense, which is another reason it is important to hire the best dog bite lawyer you can find. An experienced Las Vegas dog bite lawyer can help you prove that you were attacked and the pet was unprovoked.
Dog Bite Injury Statistics
With 69 million households in the United States owning at least one dog according to a 2021- 2022 pet owners survey, dogs are the most widely owned type of pet across the entire U.S.
- Homeowner insurers paid out$882 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2021.
- Each day, nearly 1,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries.
- In 2018, nearly27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.
- In 2019, for the first time on record, adult victims in the 30 to 49 age group sustained more dog bite fatalities than child victims in the 0 to 4 age group.
Dog bites come in all forms and levels of severity. They can be costly and life-changing. Don’t underestimate what you have been through.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States.
Dog attacks can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, which you should not be responsible for out-of-pocket. Dogs can bite a person anywhere, but the most commonly attacked areas include:
- Arms, and
Not only are these injuries painful, but they can also cause serious and long-term issues such as scarring, disfigurement, nerve damage, broken bones, internal organ damage, and deep infections.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Being attacked by a dog can have serious consequences, and it is important to prioritize your health over all else. Calling emergency services or going to the hospital is the priority. If you have time to breathe and control the situation, here are some things you may want to do:
- Consider calling the police to file a report regarding the attack,
- Obtain the dog owner’s contact information,
- Take photos of your injuries,
- Receive medical attention even if it is not an emergency,
- Request vaccination records for the animal,
- Obtain witness contact information,
- Do not admit fault of any kind, and
- Contact a Las Vegas dog bite lawyer.
The more information the better, but again, the priority is your health. Bite wounds can easily become infected, and you don’t want to make the situation worse by second-guessing your need for medical attention. Medical records will also be an important piece of documentation to have when making your case.
Las Vegas Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
If you are attacked by a dog in Nevada, it is essential to know that thestatute of limitations is two years. This means that you cannot file a lawsuit once two years have passed from the date of the attack.
The longer you wait to address the issue, the harder it may be to receive adequate compensation. Gathering information and evidence about the incident becomes more difficult over time. Witnesses change their contact information, documentation is misplaced, and memories fade. It is harder to prove the severity of the injuries you sustained. Start the legal process as soon as possible.
Comparative Fault in Nevada
Nevada is a modified comparative fault state. A victim’s award is reduced by the percentage they are deemed at fault for the dog bite occurrence. A victim found more at fault for the attack than the owner will not receive compensation. Put another way, you have to be 50% or less at fault to recover.
Under this rule, the dog owner will undoubtedly try and assert that you share the blame for being bit by their dog. This could mean an accusation of trespassing or provocation of some sort. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer will be able to anticipate this kind of defense and determine the facts so you can get the compensation you deserve.
What Compensation Is Available for a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Las Vegas?
The amount of compensation you can receive depends on the circumstances of your incident and the severity of your injuries.
Economic damages include costs directly associated with the incident, such as medical treatment, medications, physical therapy, follow-up care, and lost wages. These expenses are calculated using invoices from costs already incurred and estimates from experts who can give a meaningful prognosis for recovery and future expenses.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify. These are related to the mental and emotional impact of the dog bite. You may seek compensation for pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or other conditions that arise due to the attack.
It is essential to understand how much your case is worth. Insurance companies will often offer a lower settlement than what is necessary to meet your financial obligations and may fail to take into consideration future expenses. The best dog bite attorney in Las Vegas will be able to look at the facts of your case, conduct an independent investigation, gather facts, and determine the true value of everything you have gone through. Don’t accept less than what you deserve.
Choosing a Las Vegas Dog Bite Lawyer
No dog owner wants to admit that their pet was at fault. Being attacked by a dog is both mentally and physically traumatizing. It can even be embarrassing. The team at Morris Injury Law understands how difficult this time can be. We are committed to your financial and emotional recovery through honest legal representation. Contact us to schedule a case evaluation.