Many dog attacks feel like they happened out of the blue, when a seemingly docile animal suddenly turns aggressive. Sometimes the facts of a dog bite lend themselves to the argument that the bite victim caused the dog’s aggression or failed to act appropriately when a dog began showing signs of agitation. Such arguments in the legal context are called contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence under Nevada law
When a defendant in a personal injury case raises the contributory negligence defense, his or her goal is to transfer at least some of the blame for the plaintiff’s injury back onto the plaintiff. Contributory negligence can apply even if the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injury. It asserts that the plaintiff was also negligent in some way, and as a consequence of the plaintiff’s negligence the plaintiff’s injury occurred, or was made worse than otherwise would have been the case had the plaintiff not acted negligently. Negligence is a legal standard that applies when someone owes another person a legal duty of care and fails to meet that duty in some way. For example, a legal standard might state that individuals have an obligation to behave reasonably around dogs so as to prevent injuries to themselves and others. Nevada applies a modified contributory negligence rule. Under it, a plaintiff’s recovery against the defendant will be reduced by a percentage of fault that is assigned by a court to the plaintiff’s negligence. If the plaintiff is judged to have been 50% or more responsible for the injury, then the defendant will not be held liable for any damages.
What constitutes contributory negligence in a dog bite case?
Every dog bite case is different. A host of important facts can determine the course of the case. Those facts might include the sex and breed of the dog, the location of the event, whether or not the defendant (typically but not always the dog’s owner) was in breach of dog safety laws at the time, and so forth. Given all the variables it is difficult to describe for certain when contributory negligence might apply. In general contributory negligence may arise in a dog bite case where the plaintiff did something to provoke the dog. Typically a provocative act is something more than just acting in self defense. In other words, a person who responds to a dog barking aggressively at them by waving a stick at the dog might simply be protecting themselves, but someone who teases the dog or actively begins to attack it might be inviting aggressive behavior. Likewise, if the plaintiff disregards a “Beware of Dog” sign, or is committing an unrelated wrongful act, like trespassing, a contributory negligence defense might be more likely to apply.
GGRM Law Firm is a Las Vegas dog bite injury law firm
For more than 50 years GGRM Law Firm has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and dog bite cases. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite and you aren’t sure how contributory negligence might factor into your case, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call 702-384-1616 or contact us through our website.