Dog bites can take a lasting toll on their victims, causing emotional and physical damages. The trauma of the bites may cause the victims to develop anxiety, insomnia, depression, and a debilitating fear of dogs. The physical injuries from the bites may necessitate extensive and costly medical procedures and leave lifelong scars.

When to Sue for Dog Bite Injuries

(Pixabay / Counselling)

If you are the victim of a dog bite injury, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim. Before you file your claim, though, it’s important to know the details surrounding Nevada’s dog bite laws.

How do I know if I have a strong enough case to file a lawsuit?
Many states have specific statutes governing dog bite injuries, but Nevada does not. They do, however, adhere to the “one bite” policy that is followed in many states. This means that the owner or keeper of a domestic animal may be held legally liable for damages caused by their animal if they knew that the animal had a tendency to harm people (by biting, knocking them over, etc.) prior to the incident in question. If you are unsure about the strength of your case or how it fits into the “one bite” policy, talk to a qualified personal injury attorney. Some people have been able to win cases even as the first victim of a dog’s bite by proving negligence on the part of the dog owner/keeper. Your attorney can help you know which laws and statutes can be invoked in your particular case to defend your rights.

What types of damages can I recover?
You may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages. The amount of liability can depend on the dog’s prior classification as either “dangerous” or “vicious” and the degree of the owner’s negligence in handling that dog.

What are a dog owner’s responsibilities in relationship to their “dangerous” or “vicious” dog?
Once someone has been bitten by a dog, the victim and/or owner should report the dog to an Animal Control Officer. The officer can then assign a classification to the dog, depending on their actions. A “dangerous” dog is one that has behaved menacingly toward people in the last 18 months without being provoked. A “vicious” dog goes a step beyond that, causing significant bodily harm or death or continuing any kind of menacing behavior after being classified as dangerous.

The owner of a dangerous dog must adhere to certain guidelines, such as obtaining a permit for the dog, keeping the dog fenced in on their property, posting warning signs on their property, keeping the dog muzzled and leashed when they are off of their property, spaying or neutering the dog, getting permission from an animal control officer before selling the dog (or giving it away), etc. The owner of a vicious dog may no longer keep the dog or give away/sell the dog to someone else.

If a dog owner fails to comply with any of the requirements associated with their dangerous or vicious dog, they can be held liable. They may also be subject to criminal penalties such as fines or jail time.

How soon do I need to file my personal injury claim?
Personal injury claims, including dog bite claims, are subject to a statute of limitations and must be filed within two years.

What if the defense argues that I provoked the dog?
In some cases, the person who was bitten may be all or partly at fault for their injuries. An example of this would be if they entered a fenced yard with signs warning of a dangerous dog. Another example would be a child who provokes a dog by jabbing them with a stick. Nevada has a “modified comparative fault” policy, which means that the injured party and the dog owner will share liability for the damages as long as the injured person is less than 50 percent at fault. If they are determined to be 50 percent or more at fault, they will not be entitled to damages.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover dog bite injuries?
Dog bite injuries are by far the most common liability claim on homeowners insurance policies. Most homeowner or renter policies include some degree of protection for dog bites that may occur on the property, but dog owners may want to augment their coverage amount if they feel it is inadequate. Also, some policies exclude coverage for certain breeds of dogs, especially if that type of dog is illegal in the jurisdiction.

Should I contact a personal injury attorney?
If you have been injured due to a dog bite, contact a Las Vegas dog bite injury attorney immediately for a free consultation. They can help you navigate Nevada dog bite laws and recover the full scope of damages that you are entitled to.