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Personal Injury Basics for Equestrians

Properly cared-for horses are not especially dangerous animals, but they can still cause injuries. A rider may fall from the saddle, a horse may kick or bite. When someone is injured during equestrian activities it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the person responsible. This is especially true if the injury is very serious, involving high medical costs or even death. Quite often such cases will need to be taken to court to compel an insurer to cover the injured person’s costs. There are several potential scenarios involving horses where personal injury could create legal liability. Here are a few examples.
  • Dangerous animals. A horse’s owner needs to understand the animal’s personality. Horses can have a wide range of quirks, like fear of loud noises or children. Sometimes a horse’s behavior goes beyond typical skittishness and makes the animal dangerous to be around without appropriate precautions. The owner of such an animal needs to take reasonable care to ensure that other people are not harmed by the horse. That may include warning people who are around it and ensuring that the horse is kept where it isn’t likely to cause harm.
  • Improperly maintained equipment. Although not directly related to the behavior of the horse, badly maintained equipment could cause an injury. A saddle’s buckle might break under strain, throwing the rider. A noncommercial owner of equipment, such as someone who allows a friend to ride a horse, is not expected to take special care to ensure that every piece of equipment is in perfect condition. But if the owner knew or should have known about an equipment defect, liability may apply.
  • Irresponsible behavior. Equestrians develop good habits to keep their horses calm and content. Someone who doesn’t follow good practices around a horse risks spooking it into behaving erratically. In some situations the bad behavior may rise to negligence or worse. Setting a trap, even as a joke, is an extreme example. Bad behavior swings both ways. If the injured rider was drunk or behaving in a dangerous way (for example, trying to stand up on the saddle) the rider may be found to have behaved negligent as well, regardless of how others behaved at the time.
  • Inadequate supervision of minors. Children don’t necessarily know how to behave around horses. A horse owner who allows a child to ride a horse needs to take special precautions to make sure the child rides safely and doesn’t fall from the saddle.
It goes without saying that the facts of any injury need to be evaluated by experienced professionals to determine if a legal case can be made. To a certain degree someone who rides horses assumes risk of injury, but that doesn’t always relieve others of responsibility for creating dangerous conditions. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a horse and would like to understand your options for seeking recovery, we are here to help. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Legal Responses When a Pet Is Injured

Legal Responses When a Pet Is Injured
One side of pet ownership that many people don’t consider when they adopt a cat or dog is the possibility that the pet will need expensive medical care during its life. Especially hard to foresee are injuries caused by someone else’s wrongful action, such as failing to control an unsafe animal or committing a deliberate act of malice. When a pet is seriously injured, filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for the resulting costs may be warranted, but bear in mind that there are limits to what a plaintiff can recover in such cases.

Nevada’s pet injury law

Nevada law provides that someone who intentionally, willfully, recklessly, or negligently injures or kills another person’s domesticated dog or cat can be held liable only for specific types of damages. Damages that are available include medical costs associated with the injury, compensation for any loss in the pet’s fair market value, and reasonable attorney’s fees. Punitive damages, such as might be available against someone who has acted especially badly, are not permitted. Nor are noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. The total compensation anyone can receive in such cases is $5,000. NRS 41.740. Owners of pets that are especially valuable should consider insuring them, both to cover the cost of vet bills and to ensure that the owner’s investment is not suddenly lost. There are several components of NRS 41.740 that are worth keeping in mind. First, it applies only to dogs and cats, and then only those animals that are “maintained in or near the household.” It does not apply to exotic pets or horses. Second, it sets a distinct limit on how much a person can recover, which in cases of valuable pets can leave an owner less than financially whole. Third, the law provides exceptions for injuries to pets in certain circumstances: government actions in defense of public health or animal welfare, actions taken to protect livestock, and actions taken in defense of oneself or another person.

Exploring other causes of action for pet injuries

Despite the limitations on how much a plaintiff can seek in compensation for the injury to the pet itself, plaintiffs may have other causes of action that warrant consideration. For example, if the defendant injured the plaintiff’s pet because the defendant knew that it would cause the plaintiff emotional harm, the plaintiff may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Generally speaking such a cause of action requires more than just feeling sad about the loss of a beloved pet: the plaintiff must have suffered a sufficiently severe reaction to warrant compensation. Nevada provides additional protections for service animals. NRS 426.810 provides that the owner of a dog or other animal who allows their pet to injure or kill a service animal is guilty of a misdemeanor. Once convicted, a defendant in such a case must compensate the owner of the service animal for vet bills, replacement cost of the service animal, and other costs incurred by the owner as a consequence of losing the service animal’s help. For example, if the owner had to hire a person to provide the help that the service animal provided, the helper’s salary will be the defendant’s responsibility.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have questions about pursuing a lawsuit following an injury to your pet call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.