Being attacked by a dog is a runner’s worst nightmare. A dog’s bite can cause painful, debilitating injuries. It can also cause psychological harm, leading to anxiety and stress that can be difficult to overcome. Runners who are bitten by dogs often have the option of suing the person who was responsible.
Potential defendants in a dog attack
Determining who is legally and financially responsible for a dog is an important early step in bite lawsuits. Depending on the circumstances, responsibility can sometimes be placed with more than one person. Here are some common examples:
- The owner. A dog’s owner is responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent his or her pet from hurting other people and property. Liability often follows the owner even if the owner was not directly in control of the animal when the bite occurred.
- A dog walker. If someone other than the owner is walking the dog at the time of the attack, that person may be liable for the injury, because a person walking a dog is responsible for keeping the dog under control. Bear in mind that professional dog walking businesses may have insurance available to help pay for injuries to third parties.
- A property owner or landlord. In some situations a landlord may assume responsibility for a dog on his or her property. For example, in Wright v. Schum, 105 Nev. 611 (1989), a landlord was held responsible for injuries caused by a dog that escaped from an improperly fenced yard. The landlord had assumed legal responsibility for the dog because it had notice of the dog’s aggressive behaviors and had asked the tenant to keep it chained.
The elements of a dog bite claim in Nevada
In Nevada a dog bite is treated like most other kinds of personal injury. In a typical case the injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent. To win a dog bite lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to prove four things:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Negligence claims need to rest upon a defendant’s legal obligation. In the case of dogs, this duty sometimes comes from local ordinances governing leash use. In Nevada dogs may be kept outside at a person’s home without being leashed provided they are kept within a fully enclosed space.
- The defendant breached its duty of care. This element simply requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant didn’t do what it was supposed to do. In the case of home-kept dogs, a homeowner who fails to maintain proper fencing might be breaching his or her duty of care. The same might hold true if someone lets an aggressively barking dog out a front door without being leashed.
- The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injury. This element looks at two things. First, that the chain of events from the defendant’s breach of duty to the plaintiff’s injury shows causation. Second, that there weren’t intervening circumstances that might place responsibility elsewhere. For example, if the dog was properly leashed, but the leash harness was defective and broke, perhaps true responsibility lies with the harness manufacturer.
- The plaintiff suffered damages. The plaintiff must show that he or she has accumulated medical expenses and other compensable harm from the bite. Damages might include psychological counseling necessary to recover from the fear and anxiety that can follow a dog attack. This element serves to prevent litigation over minor incidents, like a dog rushing someone and barking, but not actually biting.
GGRM understands dog bite litigation
If you are a runner who has been injured by a dog the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez can help you understand your legal options. For over 45 years we have helped dog bite victims in the Las Vegas area recover the compensation they deserve. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.