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Determining Liability After a Dog Bite Incident

— June 1, 2022

Seek immediate medical treatment if the bite results in broken skin.

Dog bites generate big problems in legal wrangling across the country. Determining liability can be less or more difficult depending on state laws. Some districts choose strict liability, which means owners are always held liable for bites by their dogs.

Treating dog bites can be surprisingly expensive and require missing work, even for self-treatment or taking children to the doctor. Generally, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies provide insurance coverage to cover such incidents.

Nevada Dog Bite Laws

In Nevada, a dog owner must be found liable for the dog bite before the insurance will cover the incident. Nevada is one of 15 states that have a one-bite rule. That means dog owners are not held liable for an aggressive pet’s behavior until the dog has bitten at least one person.

The one-bite rule can prove complex because it does not prevent a victim from suing an owner for the dog’s behavior. It just prevents an insurance payout on the owner’s behalf.

Bite victims can still sue dog owners for compensation. Things are even more complex in Nevada; many local districts defy state law with local ordinances that employ a strict liability interpretation.

If you were injured by a dog attack, a Las Vegas dog bite attorney should review your case. After carefully reading the specifics, they can advise you on further legal action.

Dog Bites in Nevada

Even after a dog bite, dogs must still be classified as dangerous before automatic liability accrues to the owner. Dangerous dogs are defined as follows:

  • They behave menacingly toward people without provocation twice within 18 months
  • They cause substantial harm to a person
  • They cause significant bodily harm or death

Owning a dog classified as dangerous or vicious requires getting a municipal permit and a stand-alone $50,000 liability insurance policy. Owners could face criminal charges for continued dog bites after the pet is classified as dangerous or vicious.

Steps to Take After Sustaining a Dog Bite

More than 69 million families own dogs which total 85 million pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. That results in 4.5 million dog bites each year.

After being bitten by a pet, you should immediately try to distance yourself from the animal. Leave the premises, shut the fence gate and get out of range. The following tips prove useful:

Seek Medical Care

Seek immediate medical treatment if the bite results in broken skin. Dog bites can generate severe infections and diseases. Ask the owner for the dog’s medical records. Be sure to keep copies of your medical records for proof of treatment and the doctor’s follow-up recommendations.

Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.
Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.

Report the Incident to the Owner

Alert the dog’s owner that you were bitten, and explain the circumstances. If necessary, contact the pet’s vet to verify that the dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations.

If the dog is a stray, call animal control and inform your doctor.

File a Report With Local Authorities

File a report with the local police or animal control. It is essential to get the facts of the incident on official records to build a stronger case for a potential lawsuit.

Document the Incident

Chronicle your injuries with photos and written notes about your version of what happened. Also, interview neighbors to discover whether there have been other instances of dog attacks and ask if they are willing to testify in court.

Compensation Recovery After Being Bitten

Nevada law permits the recovery of compensation for any dog bite. The only complication is whether the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will pay the bill. It can be significant because many dog owners do not have insurance or financial resources. Unfortunately, some people are simply judgment-proof because they can’t pay any judgment against them.

Your best bet is to contact an attorney. An experienced Las Vegas attorney can help you sort through questions of liability after a biting incident.

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