People love taking their dogs with them wherever they go, and dogs love it, too. But dogs moving around inside a car can be dangerously distracting for drivers and can lead to serious accidents. Dogs that aren’t adequately secure in a car can also suffer injuries in sudden stops or collisions. Dog owners should take a moment to think seriously about how they protect themselves and their dogs from injury. Here are a few tips:
- Dogs should be restrained just like any other passenger. At a minimum, dogs should only ride in the back seat, but keeping them restrained is an even better policy. Like everything else in the car, a dog can be forcefully thrown toward the front of the vehicle in a collision, leading to serious injuries. Ideally a dog riding in a vehicle should be kept in a kennel. Far from being cruel, a familiar kennel can help keep a dog calm and contained. Retailers also sell harnesses one can use to essentially provide a dog with a seatbelt.
- Never carry a dog in a truck bed. One of the most common sources of injury for dogs riding in vehicles is from falling out of truck beds. It is rarely sufficient to tie a dog to the truck with a leash. Dogs can still fall out and be strangled by the leash. If available, put the dog in the truck’s back seat.
- Avoid letting the dog hang its head out of an open window. As fun as it is to watch a dog enjoy the breeze, a dog hanging its head out of an open window in a moving car is at substantially greater risk of suffering an injury from flying debris, obstructions like branches, and other vehicles. Dogs also sometimes fall or jump out of open windows.
- Be mindful of the heat. Like small children, dogs can suffer serious heat-related injuries or even death if left inside a hot car. Nevada law prohibits leaving any pet in a parked or standing vehicle in extreme hot or cold weather unless there is a person at least 12 years of age in the car with the pet. Nevada law authorizes rescuers to use “any reasonable means necessary” to save a pet left in a hot car without incurring civil liability. This means that leaving a dog in a hot car could expose the owner to prosecution but also lead to a broken window or other damage to the car. The best solution, of course, is to avoid do this at all.
Driving with an unrestrained dog in the car probably increases the risk that the driver will be dangerously distracted. If an accident does occur and the dog owner is at fault, the fact that there was a dog loose in the car may become an important fact in determining liability. The driver may find that his or her insurance carrier is unsympathetic and unhelpful in such cases, potentially leaving the driver holding the bill.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area seek compensation for personal injuries. If you have questions about how driving with a dog may affect your legal liability, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.