Suffering a dog bite can be an emotionally and physically traumatizing experience. Dog bites can cause severe injuries, which may involve expensive medical care, pain and suffering, time away from work, and a long and difficult recovery period. During this difficult time, it is important to be aware of your legal options.
In some cases, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner. At the Cottle Firm, our team of experienced Las Vegas dog bite lawyers helps our clients seek the financial compensation they deserve for the difficulties they face after a dog bite. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation.
Does Nevada Use the One-Bite Rule For Dog Bite Liability?
Unlike most other states, Nevada does not have specific laws regarding liability for dog bites. Nevada and many other states without specific animal attack statutes use a “one-bite rule” when evaluating liability for dog bites.
According to the one-bite rule, a dog owner can only be held liable for a bite if they had previous knowledge that their dog is dangerous or prone to biting. In most cases, this means liability is only on the table if the dog had previously bitten or attacked someone. Dogs with a history of biting are often classified as “dangerous dogs” or “vicious dogs” under Nevada law.
If the dog has no history of biting or attacks, liability is determined based on the standard negligence rules that apply in other types of personal injury cases, such as car accidents or slips and falls. If a dog bite victim wants to take legal action against the dog owner, they will need to prove that they were only bitten due to negligence.
Dangerous Dog Classification in Nevada
According to Nevada law, a dog may be labeled as dangerous if it has behaved menacingly to a person without provocation on at least two different occasions within 18 months. This menacing behavior must have compelled a reasonable person to defend themselves against serious bodily harm. The dog must have been either away from the premises of its owner or unconfined in a cage, pen, or vehicle during the two separate incidents.
Nevada allows residents to maintain ownership of dangerous dogs, but they are required to abide by the following rules:
- Apply for a permit from an Animal Regulation Officer
- The dog must always be on a leash when in public
- The dog must always wear a muzzle in public
- The owner must post warning signs about the dog on their property, including the dog owner’s name and phone number
- The dog must be microchipped and spayed or neutered
- The owner must maintain a liability insurance policy with at least $50,000 in coverage for dog bites
If a dog owner fails to follow these rules and their dog bites someone else as a result, the victim may have grounds for a lawsuit based on negligence.
What Is Considered a Vicious Dog in Nevada?
Nevada law also recognizes a category called “vicious” dogs. A dog may be assigned this title if it inflicts a serious injury or kills someone If a dog is designated as a dangerous dog and continues to exhibit the same behavior that resulted in this designation, it will also be designated as a vicious dog.
According to statute NRS 202.500, Nevada residents are prohibited from keeping or rehoming vicious dogs. Breaking this law is considered a misdemeanor if no one else gets hurt as a result. However, the owner of a vicious dog who goes on to attack someone and cause substantial bodily harm can be charged with a category D felony.
Dog Bite Insurance Claims
Liability for dog bites is typically included in homeowners’ and renters insurance policies. These policies cover the legal expenses and damages when a property visitor is bitten by the owner or renter’s dog. If the damages exceed the liability limits of the insurance policy (usually between $100,000 and $300,000), the dog owner may be held liable for the additional damages.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 17,597 insurance claims for dog bite injuries in 2022, with a total claim value of $1.13 billion. The average cost per claim during the same year was $64,555. This average was a 31.7 percent increase from 2021 and the average cost per claim has skyrocketed by 131.7 percent between 2013 and 2022, largely due to higher medical costs and increases in the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bite?
Your actions after suffering a dog bite are key, both for your health and the insurance claims process. Consider taking the following measures to protect yourself and ensure that you can recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Seek Medical Care
Dog bites can cause serious injuries and complications, so it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Clean your wounds with soap and water to prevent infection before seeing a medical professional. If you are physically able to, you should also take photos of your injuries before you get treatment.
Seeking treatment quickly will also make the insurance claims process smoother, as the insurance company might attempt to argue that your injuries were not serious if you delay treatment.
Collect Info From Dog Owners and Witnesses
If you need to recover financial compensation for your injuries, you will likely need to file an insurance claim with the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance provider. Collect the name, contact information, and insurance information from the dog owner as soon as you can after being bitten. If anyone else witnessed the incident, you should also collect their names and contact information.
Document Your Injuries
When filing an insurance claim, the insurance company will request documentation of your injuries. Take photos both before and after medical treatment, as this photographic evidence of your injuries will likely be useful when filing a claim. In addition, consider writing down everything you remember about the incident, such as how the dog was behaving and whether the dog owner was negligent in any way, such as allowing their dog to roam outside without a leash.
Consider Contacting a Dog Bite Lawyer
Although you may attempt to file an insurance claim on your own, navigating the claims process can be complicated. Insurance companies seek to limit or deny claims to protect the company’s profits, so dog bite victims should consider seeking legal guidance from an experienced Las Vegas dog bite lawyer who understands how to negotiate with these companies for fair settlements.
What Are the Most Common Dog Bite Injuries?
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, dog bites are a major public health issue. This study found that between 2005 and 2013, there was an average of 337,103 visits to the emergency room for dog bites. The locations of these bites break down as follows:
- 47.3% in the upper extremities
- 26.8% in the head and/or neck
- 21.5% in the lower extremities
- 4.4% in the trunk
Younger dog bite victims were more likely to be bitten in the head and neck, while older patients were bitten more often in the upper extremities.
Las Vegas Dog Bite FAQ
How Do I Know If a Dog Has a History of Attacks?
Because Nevada is a “one bite” state, most dog bite injury claims involve dogs that have bitten or attacked others in the past. You may be unsure of whether this is the case immediately after the attack, but dog bites are typically reported to local animal control authorities.
You can contact your local agency and ask them to review their records to see if the dog that bit you has bitten anyone else in the past. If so, you will likely have an easier time securing financial compensation for your injuries. However, even if the dog has no prior history of biting, you may still be able to file a claim if the owner’s negligence contributed to the attack.
Do I Need to Sue the Dog’s Owner For My Injuries?
Most dog bite injury cases are settled through the insurance claims process. Homeowners’ insurance typically covers the damages, so most victims do not need to file a lawsuit against the owner. This is especially convenient in cases where the owner is a family member or friend, as victims in this situation often hesitate to take legal action.
However, if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement based on the damages you have suffered, or if the insurance policy does not cover the full damages, a personal injury lawsuit could be an option. This decision is best made with guidance from an experienced Las Vegas dog bite lawyer.
Contact Our Las Vegas Dog Bite Lawyers
If you or a loved one has recently suffered injuries after a dog bite or another type of animal attack, the team of dedicated dog bite injury lawyers at the Cottle Firm is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how to recover financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to your injuries.